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Coal scam: CBI now says enough evidence to take cognisance

New Delhi: In an apparent U-turn, CBI, which had filed a closure report in a coal blocks case involving industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, former coal secretary P C Parakh and others, today told a special court there was enough evidence against the accused to take cognisance of offences.

The Supreme court appointed-special public prosecutor (SPP) R S Cheema submitted before Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar that the court can take cognisance on the closure report filed by it on October 21 as there was prima facie "evidence against the accused to show their involvement".

Kumar Mangalam Birla
Kumar Mangalam Birla

The court after hearing the submissions advanced by Cheema and CBI prosecutors V K Sharma and A P Singh fixed the matter for November 25 for consideration of the agency's closure report.

"SPP states that under the facts and circumstances of the case, prima facie there is enough material to take cognizance of the offences against private parties and some of the government officials involved in the process of coal blocks allocation. Put up for consideration on the closure report on November 25," the judge said.

The CBI also placed on record a compilation of relevant documents relating to the case. During the hearing, Cheema said, "We are asking for cognisance on the closure report as there was evidence against the accused to show their involvement."

The judge asked the prosecutor that if the court decides to take cognisance of the offences, will the agency be ready with its documents. To this, Cheema said some further investigation was required in the matter. Earlier, on October 21, CBI had filed a "detailed and comprehensive" revised final closure report before a the court 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. 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 after it first filed the closure report on August 28.

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".

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