After CBI, Special court gives clean chit to former PM

RSTV Bureau

India's energy needsThe Special CBI court has out rightly dismissed a plea against former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, seeking to summon him in the matter relating to the alleged irregularities in the coal block allocations. Jharkhand’s former CM Madhu Koda, one of the accused in the case, had move a plea seeking summon orders against Dr. Singh, alleging a conspiracy in the allocation of coal block to Naveen Jindal Group firms during the tenure of Congress-led UPA government where Dr. Singh was the Prime Minister from May 2004 to May 2014.

Dismissing Mr. Koda’s plea, the Special CBI court on Friday ruled that former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh will not be made an accused in the case.

On September 28, the investigating agency CBI had given a clean chit to the former Prime Minister, saying there was no evidence which even prima facie suggested involvement of Dr. Manmohan Singh in any alleged irregularities in coal block allocation. Opposing the summoning of former PM Dr. Singh, as sought by former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda, the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) RS Cheema, representing the premier investigating agency, had argued that Koda’s plea was “devoid of any merits”.

“The present application is a device worked out by accused person so as to not only delay the present trial but also to deviate the court from the case,” SPP R.S. Cheema had told the court.

Citing the records, SPP Cheema earlier argued before the bench of Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar that Dr. Singh, who held the Coal Portfolio at that time, had no complicity with any of the accused in any manner and there was no evidence to show that he had acted in a “mechanical manner” in the entire process.

CBI“The records not even prima facie show anything to summon the then Prime Minister as accused in the case. The evidence does not show any complicity on the part of the then Prime Minister in allocation of coal block,” Mr. Cheema argued further adding that the “application is devoid of any merits. Investigation in the case is comprehensive and complete in all respect. We find no reasons to summon additional accused in the case now”.

The CBI had also argued that as per the case of the investigating agency, government machinery in Jharkhand had colluded with other accused to ensure that coal block is allotted to Jindal Group firms and it would not be correct to say that former PM Manmohan Singh had all the knowledge about what had happened in the state.

Special PP R.S. Cheema had also added that the former PM relied on the recommendation of the screening committee, which was a high-powered inter-ministerial body comprising several members.

Mr. Cheema also referred to the statements of various prosecution witnesses, including the then senior Prime Minister Office (PMO) officials — TKA Nair, Vini Mahajan and Ashish Gupta.

“Bare perusal of the manner in which the files have been processed in the PMO shows that the then Prime Minister had duly applied his mind while making notes on the files and did not approve the recommendations in a mechanical manner,” Mr. Cheema told the Special CBI court in a significant argument on September 28.

The Special CBI court is likely to pronounce the order on Mr. Koda’s plea on October 16.

(With inputs from the PTI)