Criminal conspiracy and corruption charges stare at Congress leader
GN Bureau | March 11, 2015
In an ultimate denouement, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, along with a couple of highly-placed executives in Hindalco have been summoned to appear before court on April 8 in the coal scam case.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar summoned the accused for the alleged offences punishable under Sections 120B (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 (PCA). If convicted, the accused are liable to be sentenced for a maximum of life imprisonment.
Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that he was upset. "I am upset, but this is a part of life," Manmohan Singh told reporters. "I am sure that the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with facts," the former PM added.
Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hansraj Ahir on Wednesday said it is extremely unfortunate for the nation that Manmohan Singh has been summoned. "This is unfortunate for the nation that a former prime minister has been summoned. But this is the law of the land and I am happy that it has been applied to everyone," said Ahir, who is the whistleblower in the coal scam.
Singh, Birla, ex-coal secretary P C Parakh and three others were on Wednesday summoned as accused by a special court in a coal scam case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005. Besides these three, the court also summoned M/s Hindalco, its officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya as accused in the case.
The court had in December asked for Manmohan Singh to be examined. Before the court's order, the CBI had suggested it would like to drop the case against Hindalco and others saying it could not find evidence against them.
The case pertains to a decision of the 25th Screening Committee which had disallowed the allocation of Talabira II Block to Hindalco, which was subsequently reversed after meetings between KM Birla and the former coal secretary.
The coalgate surfaced after the CAG report in 2012 questioned the government's practice of awarding coal mining concessions to companies without competitive bidding. The Supreme Court last year scrapped nearly 214 coal blocks allocated by successive governments over the past two decades.
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