Coal scam case: No evidence against Manmohan Singh, CBI tells court

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday told a special court that there is no prima facie evidence against former prime minister Manmohan Singh in coal block allocation case allegedly involving Jindal group firms.

Special Public Prosecutor R.S. Cheema told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that there is no evidence against Manmohan Singh to name him as an accused in allocation of Jharkhand's Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal Steel and Gagan Sponge.

Former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
Former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda had filed a plea last month seeking summoning of Manmohan Singh in the case but the CBI opposed it saying that the application was filed to delay the trial.

Citing various records, the prosecutor also said that the then prime minister, who was also holding coal portfolio at that time, was not part of any conspiracy in allocating coal block to Jindal Group firms.

The CBI also said the application was "devoid of any merits" and said that the plea was a work of an accused person to deviate the court from the case.

It told the court that a comprehensive and complete probe has been conducted in the case and nothing was found against Manmohan Singh.

The court set October 16 for delivering its order on Koda's plea.

Koda, in his plea, said: "Materials placed by the CBI shows the said conspiracy, if any, cannot be complete without the involvement of the (then) coal minister (Manmohan Singh) who had the final say in the entire allotment."

He also sought summoning of the then energy secretary Anand Swaroop and the then mines secretary Jai Shankar Tiwari, saying they were part of the three-member sub-group formed by the Jharkhand government to evaluate the pleas of firms and suggest suitable application for recommendation by the state.

The CBI told court that Swaroop and Tiwari has been named as prosecution witnesses in the case and the probe agency did not find any evidence against them too.

Apart from Koda, Congress leader Naveen Jindal, former union minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and others have been named as accused in the case.

They have been charge sheeted for criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Rao, supporting Koda's application, has said that it was the Prime Minister's Office which had examined and re-examined the issue of allocation of coal block and that the decision of the allocation of Jharkhand's Amarkonda Murgadangal to Jindal Steel and Gagan Sponge was taken on the behest of Manmohan Singh.

However, Congress leader and industrialist Jindal had submitted that neither he is opposing nor supporting Koda's application. He added that any order passed by the court on Koda's application should not prejudice the rights of the accused to seek discharge from the case.

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