Coal blocks allocation case: Special bench to hear Manmohan plea, says SC

“We will refer this to the coal bench and you go before that bench and convince them that this is not a coal matter," a bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu tells the former Prime Minister's counsel.

Updated - November 16, 2021 09:52 pm IST

Published - October 07, 2015 12:51 pm IST - New Delhi

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. File photo

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. File photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that the appeal of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, challenging the trial court order summoning him as an accused in a coal blocks allocation case, would be heard by a special bench which has been hearing such cases.

The observation was made by a bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu when senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Dr. Singh, sought an early hearing of the appeal filed by former Prime Minister.

“This is the matter which is not entirely related to the coal allocation case,” Mr. Sibal said.

“We will refer this to the coal bench and you go before that bench and convince them that this is not a coal matter,” the bench said.

The bench, also comprising Justice Arun Mishra, said that this matter will be listed next week.

Minutes after the development, senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for Hindalco, mentioned the plea before the bench and sought the hearing after Diwali vacation. The plea was resisted by Mr. Sibal.

“These all are that matter. They should be heard together,” Mr. Salve said. The submissions of Mr. Salve were supported by another senior advocate K.K. Venugopal who appeared for former Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia, also an accused in another coal scam case.

The bench, which tentatively agreed with Mr. Salve’s plea and fixed the matters for hearing on November 17, 2015, later asked the lawyers to arrive at a consensus with regard to the date of hearing and then mention it together before the bench.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered deletion from its list of business of September 21, 2015, the batch of appeals filed by Dr. Singh and others.

The apex court had on April 1, 2015 >stayed the trial court order summoning former Prime Minister as accused in a coal block allocation case and the proceedings before it.

The relief was also extended to Hindalco chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, whose company was granted Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005, former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh, Hindalco officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D. Bhattacharya and the company itself.

While staying trial court’s order, the apex court had said that the consequential proceedings arising out of the summoning order shall also remain stayed.

The Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar had on March 11, 2015 rejected the CBI’s closure report and >summoned Dr. Singh and five others as accused.

While issuing the summons, the trial court had said that prima facie it was clear that the criminal conspiracy which was initially conceived by Mr. Birla, Hindalco and its two officials, was carried out further “by roping in Parakh, and thereafter the then Minister of Coal, Manmohan Singh”.

It had said that Dr. Singh’s approval to allocate coal block to Hindalco “prima facie facilitated windfall profits” to the private firm resulting in loss to PSU Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC).

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