New Delhi, Oct. 22: The CBI today wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking all the files relevant to the coal block allocation to Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Hindalco in Odisha in 2005.
The letter was sent on a day the investigating agency submitted in the Supreme Court a status report on the progress on 14 FIRs registered in the coal allocation case, including that against Birla.
The status report — the fourth in the case — was submitted in a sealed cover and its contents are not known. The Supreme Court, which had said it would unshackle the CBI from government control, is monitoring the coal probe.
“We have written to the PMO requesting them to hand over all the files relating to the allocation of coal block to Hindalco. It’s a part of the probe and our officials want to examine everything before reaching any conclusion,” a senior CBI official said.
On Saturday, the PMO had publicly defended its decision to allow Hindalco a share in a coal block in 2005, when Manmohan Singh was holding charge as coal minister. “The Prime Minister is satisfied that the final decision taken in this regard was entirely appropriate and is based on the merits of the case placed before him,” a PMO statement said.
The statement was issued after the CBI filed an FIR against Birla, Hindalco and then coal secretary P.C. Parakh, alleging corruption and criminal conspiracy in the allocation. The FIR did not list any evidence to back the charges.
CBI chief Ranjit Sinha has since said that if the agency finds there is no “material evidence” it “may file a closure report”. “But we have to probe everything before arriving at any decision,” a senior CBI official said today.
“Right now we are focused on examining all the files related to coal allocation pertaining to Hindalco and that’s why we wrote to the PMO. We will go step by step,” the official said, not ruling out questioning the Prime Minister.
The minister of state for the PMO, V. Narayanasamy, today said the government had nothing to hide. “We have nothing to hide and have already given thousands of documents to the agency,” he said.
The Supreme Court, which had earlier described the CBI as a “caged parrot”, is hearing two PILs on alleged corruption in allocation of coal blocks from 1993 to 2010.
The Odisha Congress trained its guns on Naveen Patnaik for recommending coal blocks to private companies. “The BJD government not only recommended coal block Talabira-II to Hindalco, it also recommended a coal block to the Jindal Steel and Power Limited,” state party chief Jaydev Jena said.