Seeking nod to prosecute official in coalscam: CBI

CBI today told a special court that it has sent the necessary records of a coalscam case to the authority concerned for considering grant of sanction to prosecute a Ministry of Coal (MoC) official for his alleged role in the matter.  The agency’s move came after the court on January 30 had said that former Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and MoC official L S Janoti had allegedly committed criminal misconduct and facilitated AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd to unlawfully obtain a coal block.

“It is submitted by the senior public prosecutor that the necessary relevant records have been sent to the authority for considering according sanction to prosecute public servant involved. Accordingly, put up for March 31,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

CBI had earlier apprised the court that administrative approval was obtained for sending records to the competent authority for considering grant of sanction to prosecute the public servant for his alleged role in the case.

The court, in its January 30 order, had asked CBI to further investigate the case in which the agency has already chargesheeted Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, Director of AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd Manoj Jayaswal and the firm, as accused.

It had noted that Bagrodia, Gupta and Janoti had allegedly entered into a conspiracy with private parties in the allocation of Bander coal block in Maharashtra to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd.

The court had also said that out of these three persons, only Janoti was still in active government service and prior sanction of the competent authority was required to prosecute him for offence punishable under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Court asks CBI to further probe against ex-coal secy actions

The acts of former Coal Secretary and two other government officials overlooking the misrepresentation by Navbharat Power Pvt Ltd (NPPL) for getting coal block prima facie amounts to criminal misconduct, a special court on Wednesday said, directing the to further investigate the case.

The court differed from the investigating officer’s conclusion that no malafide intention was found on the part of government officials, saying it was prima facie clear that the decision of allocating coal block to NPPL was taken by the Ministry of Coal (MOC) officers and the Screening Committee without keeping public interest in mind.

Coalgate case: Why was court kept in the dark: SC

In a big embarrassment to the government in the Coalgate case , the Supreme Court today termed as “very disturbing” the CBI affidavit on sharing its report with the Law Minister and others and slammed the agency for having kept the court in the dark on the issue.

Hearing the coal blocks allocation scam case in a packed courtroom, the bench said “suppression” of the fact that CBI has shared its probe report with the government is “not ordinary”.

A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha observed that there was a “very disturbing feature” in the affidavit filed on April 26 by CBI director Ranjit Sinha and the agency must be restored to its independent position. Sinha, in his two page affidavit filed in the apex court, had said that the agency’s status report on coal allocation scam was “shared” with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and senior officials of PMO and Coal ministry “as desired by them”.

The apex court said that sharing of information with the government about the probe into the scam has “shaken the entire process” and CBI need not take instructions from “political masters” on their probe.

“Our first exercise will be to liberate CBI from political interference,” the bench said. In his affidavit, the CBI Director had said, “I submit that the draft of the same (status report) was shared with Law Minister as desired by him prior to its submission before the Supreme Court. Besides the political executive, it was also shared with one joint secretary level officer each of Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them.”

The CBI director had also assured the apex court that the agency will not share further status reports in this case with any member of the political executive.

Sinha’s affidavit had contradicted the claim made by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval on behalf of CBI on March 12 that the probe report in the scam has not been shared with any member of the government and it has only been shared with the apex court after being vetted by the CBI director.

The affidavit was filed in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order which, in an unprecedented move on March 12, had directed the CBI director to assure the court that the status report in the coalgate scam is not being shared with the government. Today’s hearing came a day after Raval shot off a letter to Attorney General G E Vahanvati in which he alleged that he has been made a “scapegoat” in the matter.

Raval is also believed to have accused Vahanvati of trying to interfere in CBI’s probe report. Earlier, the CBI and the Centre had clashed over the coalgate scam. The agency had told the court that there have been “arbitrary allotments without scrutiny” in the coal blocks allocation during the UPA-I tenure.

The government had refuted its findings saying that the “CBI is not the final word on this.” In the status report filed by CBI on March 8, the agency had said that the coal block allocation during 2006-09 was done without verifying the credentials of companies which allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves and no rationale was given by the Coal Ministry in giving coal blocks to them.



Coal scam: DMK seeks fair probe

With CBI submitting before the apex court that its status report on coal allocation scam was “shared” with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, former UPA ally DMK today indicated that it sought a fair probe into the matter.
“My opinion is that everything should happen (in a) straightforward (manner),” DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in a terse reply when reporters asked for his response on the CBI’s affidavit in the Supreme Court in this regard.

Setting off a political bombshell, CBI chief Ranjit Sinha on Friday had submitted before the apex court that the agency’s status report on coal allocation scam was “shared” with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar “as desired by him” and that senior officials of PMO and Coal ministry had also seen it.

“I submit that the draft (status report)of the same was shared with Law Minister as desired by him prior to its submission before the Supreme Court….It was also shared with one joint secretary level officer each of Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them,” Sinha’s affidavit says.



Irregularities in coal blocks allocation: CBI tells SC

Investigations in the coal block allocations have established irregularities by government authorities in allocation of the natural resources and around 300 companies are under its scanner, the CBI said to Supreme Court.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the agency told that it is taking up the probe against each and every company which has been allocated coal block since 1993 and “in particular during the period 2006 to 2008.”

“CBI learnt that during the period 1993 onwards there were irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks and awarding contracts for development of mines and formation of joint ventures by public sector undertakings under the Government dispensation category.

“The concerned authorities did not follow the rules and procedures for awarding the mines development contract for the coal blocks allocated under Government dispensation category by Ministry of Coal,” According to the affidavit.

The agency said that a special team comprising investigators specifically selected by the CBI Director has been formed and they are scrutinising 700 files running into approximately 1.60 lakh pages.

“The system adopted by the concerned authorities in formation of joint ventures was not transparent and that due diligence was not observed during the process.

“Some public servants had vested interests in the award of contract for the development of mines or joint ventures with private parties. It was also suspected that large number of private companies had unduly benefited in the process,” According to the agency.