New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter to the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in support of HINDALCO for allocation of a coal block was prima facie a plan chalked out by Aditya Birla Group to tap bureaucratic and political channels which acted like a fresh lease of life for the firm whose claim was negated, a Special Court today said. However, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said he was not at all suggesting that Patnaik acted in pursuance to any criminal conspiracy with HINDALCO in writing the letter to the Prime Minister.
“Such a conclusion from the aforesaid single fact will be completely a conclusion based on conjectures and surmises which is neither proper nor permissible under law,” the judge said but added that the letter by Patnaik also cannot be termed to be a mere co-incidence in view of the fact that the claim of HINDALCO for coal block was negated at the PMO and Ministry of Coal (MOC).
The court observed that prima facie it appears that the letter from Odisha Chief Minister was procured primarily to “scuttle the adverse notes being made by the junior officers in the MOC and PMO.” The court said on account of the planning devised by the “representatives of HINDALCO to tap their bureaucratic and political channels they managed to convince Chief Minister, Odisha, to write such a letter to the Prime Minister recommending their case for allocation of Talabira II coal block.”
The court said after Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman Aditya Birla Group, made a written request to Prime Minister by a letter May 7, 2005 seeking allocation of Talabira-II coal block in favour of M/s HINDALCO and when things did not move to their (company officials) satisfaction, efforts to tap their resources in Odisha were made and their efforts proved “fruitful”.