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Kumar Mangalam Birla, Manmohan Singh summoned in coal scam case

By PTI
11 March, 2015

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, ex-coal secretary P C Parakh and three others were on Wednesday summoned as accused by a special court in a coal scam case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 and asked to appear before it on April 8.

Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar summoned the six accused on April 8 for the alleged offences punishable under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

Besides these three, the court also summoned M/s Hindalco, its officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya as accused in the case.

If convicted, the accused are liable to be sentenced for a maximum of life imprisonment.

The case pertains to allocation of Talabira II coal block in Odisha to M/s Hindalco in 2005, when the then Prime Minister Singh was holding the coal portfolio.

CBI, in its FIR, had named Parakh, Birla, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons for alleged offences under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the PCA.

However, the agency had later on filed a closure report in the court, which had refused to accept it.

The court, in its December 16 last year order, had directed CBI to examine former Prime Minister Singh and some top officials of then Prime Minister Office (PMO), including Singh’s then Principal Secretary T K A Nair and then private secretary B V R Subramanyam.

Parakh and Hindalco have denied any wrongdoing.

Pronouncing the order, the judge said, “I am taking cognisance of offences under Sections 120B, 409 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.” 

Section 13(1)(c) of PCA relates to a public servant dishonestly misappropriating property entrusted to him or allowing any other person to do so.

Section 13(1)(d)(3) relates to a public servant obtaining any pecuniary advantage for any person without any public interest.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was summoned by a court here as an accused in a coal scam case, today said he will get a chance to put forward his case with all the facts and expressed confidence that the truth will prevail.

“Of course, I am upset but this is part of life,” he told reporters here when asked for his reaction on the court order.

“I have always said I am open for legal scrutiny…I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all the facts,” Singh added.

Earlier in the day, a special court here summoned Singh along with industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, ex-coal secretary P C Parakh and three others as accused in a case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 and asked them to appear before it on April 8.

Summoned by a special court in connection with the coal scam, Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh today said it came as a “surprise” to him.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, Parakh and three others were today summoned as accused by a special court in a coal scam case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 and asked to appear before it on April 8.

“It (summon) came as a surprise to me,” Parakh told reporters here today.

However, he said, “Court has its own method of working and its not appropriate to comment on that.” 

When asked whether there were any political reasons to these summons, Parakh said there are no political overtones to it.

Besides these three, the court also summoned M/s Hindalco, its officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya as accused in the case.

CBI, in its FIR, had named Parakh, Birla, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons for alleged offences under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the PCA.

However, the agency had later filed a closure report in the court, which had refused to accept it.

The court, in its December 16 last year order, had directed CBI to examine former PM Singh and some top officials of then PMO, including Singh’s then Principal Secretary T K A Nair and then private secretary B V R Subramanyam.

Aditya Birla group flagship firm Hindalco today said it would defend its case through “legal process” after studying order of the special court, which summoned its Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, among others as accused in a coal scam case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005.

“Hindalco reiterates that none of its officials, including its Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, have pursued any unlawful or inappropriate means for securing the allocation of the coal block,” the company said in a statement.

It further said that Hindalco would study the order of the court in detail “and would defend its case through legal process.” 

Stating that the company has “cooperated with investigating authorities completely during the course of investigation since October 2013, the company’s management is confident that it will stand vindicated at the end of the ongoing legal process.” 

“The company had represented its case to the concerned authorities in a transparent and lawful manner, following which it was allocated a 15 per cent share in the combined Talabira-II and III coal block in November 2005, in a JV with Mahanadi Coalfields Limited and Neyvili Lignite Corporation, both public sector undertakings with an 85 per cent stake,” it said.

The coal block was deallocated in 2014.

Aditya Aluminium Project, for which this allocation was made, has been implemented by the company at an investment of over Rs 13,000 crore in Odisha.

“The plant is already operational even though Talabira-II & III coal block could not become operational for want of clearances. Consequently, Hindalco is having to suffer irrecoverable financial stress,” the company said.


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Kumar Mangalam Birla, Manmohan Singh summoned in coal scam case

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