Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the order of a trial court that >summoned him as accused in a coal scam case.
Hindalco chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh, who were also summoned as accused in the case, have also filed petitions challenging the trial court order.
On March 12, 2015 a special CBI court had summoned Dr. Singh, along with five others including Mr. Birla and Mr. Parakh in a case involving the allocation of Odisha's Talabira coal blocks in 2005 to Hindalco, a Birla group company.
Not the function of the court, says Manmohan
A team of senior advocates, led by Kapil Sibal, has settled former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s petition which is likely to be mentioned for urgent hearing in a day or two. Dr. Singh has sought quashing of the summons issued to him by the special CBI judge on the grounds that there was a complete ‘non-application of mind’ while issuing the order.
The petition also argues that Dr. Singh had only taken a decision as a competent authority on allocation of the Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco on the representation of the Odisha government.
“It is submitted that it is no part of the function of a criminal court to enquire into whether the Prime Minister acted rightly or wrongly acceding to the request of the Chief Minister,” the petition says. Further, it says “it is no part of the function of a criminal court to assess comparative merits of whether a state shall support a private sector project or a public sector project, and on that basis come to a conclusion that since ultimately a decision was made to support a private sector project, such a decision was necessarily corrupt and an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar, who is hearing the coal mines allocations case, had called the inclusion of Hindalco in the Talabira-II coal block “dishonest.” The court, in its order, said “there apparently was a concerted effort by all concerned to somehow accommodate Hindalco in the Talabira-II coal block irrespective of the rules, regulations, guidelines or procedure permitting the same, much less the rule of law and in complete disregard to the public interest involved.”
Hindalco had applied for the Talabira-II block in 1996, but the coal block screening committee gave it to the Neyveli Lignite Corporation in August 2005, saying that an existing coal linkage had already been given to Hindalco. However, Hindalco chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla pointed out that the company’s coal linkage was not used. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik then wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) supporting Mr. Birla’s case, after which the PMO asked the screening committee to reconsider its decision.
Hindalco and its officials Subhendu Amitabh and D. Bhattacharya have also filed similar petitions challenging the CBI court order.
Dr. Singh and the Coal trail
- ›March 2012 CAG’s draft report accuses govt of ‘inefficient’ allocation of coal blocks in 2004-2009; estimates windfall gains to allottees at Rs 10.7 lakh crore.
- ›May 29, 2012 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offers to give up his public life if found guilty in the scam. Two days later, CVC directs a CBI enquiry
- ›November 25, 2014 CBI informs a special court that it was not permitted to question former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The investigating agency also said it wasn't necessary.
- ›December 17, 2014 Special court ordered the CBI to examine former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
- ›January 20, 2015 CBI records the statement of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
- ›March 11, 2015 Special court summons former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kumar Mangalam Birla and P.C. Parakh as accused.
- ›March 25, 2015 Manmohan Singh moves Supreme Court against summon in coal scam case.
>Detailed timeline of the coal scam