SC breather to Manmohan, Notice to CBI

Rajat Kain

Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will not have to appManmohan_Singhear before the CBI Special Court in coal allocation matter, at least for some time. On Wednesday morning the Supreme Court stayed the summons order issued by the Special CBI court in Patiala House court asking former Prime Minister to appear before the court on 8th April.
The top court has also stayed proceedings into the matter in lower court.

“There was no criminal intent, if one doesn’t follow guidelines it doesn’t mean that an illegality was committed“ said Dr. Singh’s lawyer, Kapil Sibal inside the court. Leading a team of eminent lawyers to represent the former PM, Sibal also asserted “the Prime Minister has plenary powers and his administrative decisions can’t be termed illegal”.

The Special court is hearing on the allegations of lack of transparency and alleged wrongdoings in the allocation of coal blocks.

The Special CBI court had on 11th March had issued summons to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh observing that there was a “conscious effort on his part to somehow accommodate” Hindalco, the subsidiary owned by Aditya Birla Group in the allocation of Talabira-II coal block of Orissa in year 2005.

The summons seeking personal appearance were issued by the Special court after it took a suo-motu cognisance and rejected the CBI’s closure report that gave clean chit to the former Prime Minister Singh, Coal Secretary Parakh and Industrialist Birla and two others. The Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar on 11th March, had said, “I am taking cognisance of offences under Sections 120B (conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the IPC and under Sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d)(3) of PCA against six accused, M/s Hindalco, Shubhendu Amitabh, D Bhattacharya, Kumar Mangalam Birla, P C Parakh and Dr Manmohan Singh.”

The three had moved country’s top court seeking quashing of summons order as well as the stay of trial proceedings terming the Special court order erroneous and legally untenable, especially in view of the clean chit given by the investigating agency CBI. The Supreme Court also issued notice to the CBI along with staying all the proceedings in the special court. Court has sought response from the CBI within three weeks.

“CBI has accepted the Supreme Court notice given to them. The CBI has also been given three weeks to reply to the notice of the apex court. The case will be taken up by the Supreme Court in four weeks” Ashwini Kumar told the reporters. Kumar, a former Law Minister too was among the team of lawyers representing the former Prime Minister.

Earlier in the course of trial the CBI had filed a closure report in the coal blocks allocation ‘scam’ before the special judge conceding that there is no proof of any wrongdoing against former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the Talabira coal block allocation.