Coal Scam: Court to Hear Case Involving Birla, Others on October 21
NEW DELHI: A special court today fixed October 21 for hearing arguments on the closure report filed by the CBI in a coal blocks allocation scam case involving top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, former coal secretary P C Parakh and others.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, who is dealing with all the coal scam related cases, fixed the matter for October 21 as special public prosecutor R S Cheema was not available for advancing arguments today.
The CBI sought some time to advance the arguments on the closure report citing unavailability of Cheema and senior public prosecutor V K Sharma.
On September 12, the court had asked CBI what was the hurry in closing the case in which FIR was registered against Birla, Parakh and others.
The observation of the court had come after the investigating officer (IO) in the case had contended that the original minutes of meeting of screening committee, in which Birla-owned Hindalco's application seeking allocation of coal blocks was dealt with, were "missing".
The agency had told the court that it has already lodged a PE (preliminary enquiry) regarding the missing documents.
CBI had on August 28 filed a closure report in the case.
The FIR against Birla, Parakh and others was registered in October last year by CBI which had alleged that Parakh had reversed his decision to reject coal block allocation to Hindalco within months "without any valid basis or change in circumstances" and shown "undue favours".
The FIR relates to allocation of Talabira II and III coal blocks in 2005. CBI had booked Birla, Parakh and other officials of Hindalco under various IPC sections, including criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct on the part of government officials.
In its FIR, the agency had alleged that during the 25th Screening Committee meeting, chaired by Parakh, applications of Hindalco and Indal Industries were rejected for mining in Talabira II and III "citing valid reasons".
In the last hearing, the CBI had told the court that the 36th screening committee, which had recommended coal block allocation to the Madhya Pradesh-based company, was not aware that the firm had allegedly misrepresented facts for acquiring the block.
The agency had told the court that during probe it was detected that the firm had misrepresented facts and disclosed its wrong net worth before the screening committee, set up for recommending allocation of coal blocks.
CBI, in its closure report, had said, they have not found sufficient evidence against the firm, which was allocated coal block in Madhya Pradesh, and its directors to proceed with the case.
The court had earlier raised questions over CBI filing closure report against the firm's chartered accountant Amit Goyal as he was the one who had appeared before the screening committee, which dealt with its application seeking allocation of coal blocks, on behalf of the company.
It had asked CBI to clarify as to what evidence "it could not collect" during the probe to substantiate its findings recorded in the FIR in the case.
The agency in its closure report had said that the acts of Coal Ministry officials in not checking the applications with regard to their eligibility and completeness were not found to be pursuant to "criminal conspiracy".
CBI had earlier claimed that officials of the firm had furnished unaudited balance sheet and had allegedly inflated its capacity to produce sponge iron by 25 per cent.