New Delhi: A special court today fixed August 17 to hear a coal scam case in which the Supreme Court has stayed the summons issued against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and others. The case came up for hearing before Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, who deferred the matter as the operations of order passed by him summoning Manmohan Singh, Birla and others as accused have been stayed by the apex court.
The special court had on December 16 last year refused to accept the CBI’s closure report filed in the case and had directed the agency to further investigate the matter and examine the former premier and other PMO officials.
CBI had later filed a supplementary final report in the court, which had on March 11 summoned Singh, Birla, former Coal Secretary P C Parakh, Hindalco Industries Ltd and two top officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya in the case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005.
The apex court on April 1 had stayed the trial court order summoning them as accused and the proceedings before it. In his plea filed in the apex court, Singh had contended that the trial court had exceeded its jurisdiction by attributing criminality in administrative decisions of the Prime Minister, who was also holding the Coal portfolio then.
The plea had said the trial court’s decision to summon the former Prime Minister was a “grave mistake both in law” and “understanding of evidence”.
The apex court had also issued notice to the Centre on a separate plea filed by Hindalco Industries challenging the constitutional validity of section 13(1)(d)(iii) (public servant obtaining for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
The special court, in its March 11 order, had said it was prima facie clear that “there was a concerted joint effort” by Parakh and Singh to “somehow accommodate M/s Hindalco in Talabira-II, coal block.”
It had said that Singh’s approval to allocate coal block to Hindalco “prima facie facilitated windfall profits” to the private firm resulting in loss to state-owned PSU Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd (NLC).
CBI, in its FIR, had named Parakh, Birla, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons for alleged offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the PCA.
However, the agency had later on filed a closure report in the court, which had refused to accept it. The court had summoned the six accused for the alleged offences punishable under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.