The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed in limine an application seeking a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to include the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the FIR registered on October 15 against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary Prakash Chandra Parakh.
A three-judge Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph told petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma: “When we are hearing the matter, you have come to the conclusion [that the Prime Minister’s name should be included in the FIR]. The CBI has registered preliminary enquiries and FIRs, let it investigate.”
The petitioner said the Prime Minister, who had justified the allocation of a coal block to Hindalco, must be asked to explain the allocation of the remaining 150-odd blocks also by filing an affidavit. The Bench rejected this plea also.
The petitioner questioned the CBI for filing an FIR without including the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was Coal Minister at that time and who made the allotment to Hindalco. Mr. Sharma refuted the CBI’s assertion that the allotment made by the Screening Committee was changed by the then Coal Secretary. He said the allotment was not in the hands of the Screening Committee. He annexed copies of the letters written by various Ministers to the Coal Minister to consider and allot the coal block to the applicant concerned.
He said though 14 FIRs had been filed by the CBI in the ‘coal case’, his apprehension was that the Prime Minister had directed the CBI to file a defective FIR against Mr. Birla and the former Coal Secretary so that they could escape criminal liability and also to facilitate the accused persons to get the FIR quashed. He sought a direction to the Centre and the CBI to file all recommendation letters issued by the then Minister of State for Steel, other Ministers, MPs and MLAs and also to file copies of the FIRs already registered by the CBI.
Quoting the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office justifying the allocation to Hindalco, he said: “For the first time since the coal block allocation scam was exposed, the Prime Minister has explained one allocation. But there have been more than 150 coal block allocations and only he will be able to explain all of them.”
“It’s a confession”
Mr. Sharma said that till now, the Centre in its reply had not stated anything about the true role of the then Coal Minister in the allocation. In its reply, the Centre had put the responsibility for allotment on the Screening Committee. In fact, it concealed the fact that the Screening Committee was nothing but eyewash.
Referring to the PM’s statement, the petitioner said: “It is a confession of the then Coal Minister on the allotment of the block. He had taken the decision on the basis of the documents and facts submitted to him. Therefore, he must be called upon to file an affidavit before this court to make his position clear.”