(From Press Trust of India)

The CBI Monday opposed the petition of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda in a special court seeking summons to former prime minister Manmohan Singh and two others as additional accused in a coal scam case, saying the application was “devoid of any merits.”

Manmohan Singh

Special public prosecutor R.S. Cheema told the court that the records of the case not even prima facie suggest that the then prime minister, who was also coal minister at that time, was part of any conspiracy in allocating a coal block to Jindal Group companies.

“The present application is a device worked out by accused person so as to not only delay the present trial but also deviate the court from the case,” Cheema told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.

A comprehensive and complete probe has been conducted by CBI in the case and they do not find any reason which would lead to summoning of the then prime minister as accused in the case, he said.

Regarding the two other persons whom Koda had sought to summon as additional accused in the case, the agency said these two are important prosecution witnesses and there was no evidence to show they conspired with anyone in the entire process.

The court, after hearing the submissions, reserved its order on Koda’s petition for October 16.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal group companies — Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL).

Koda, who is one of the 15 accused in the case, had moved an application seeking to summon Manmohan Singh and two others — Anand Swaroop, then secretary (energy), and Jai Shankar Tiwari, then secretary (mines and geology) — as additional accused in the case.

Earlier, former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao had supported Koda’s petition for summoning of Manmohan Singh while claiming that the office of the then prime minister had allocated a coal block to Jindal group after examining and re-examining the matter.

The CBI had on September 4 told the court that all the 15 accused in a coal scam case, in which Koda sought summoning of Manmohan Singh as accused, should clarify whether they supported or opposed his plea.

Koda’s plea seeking to summon Singh as an additional accused had contended that Singh being the final authority to allocate coal blocks, cannot escape from the consequences of his decision.

In his petition, Koda said: “The materials placed by CBI show that the said conspiracy, if any, cannot be complete without the involvement of the coal minister (Singh) who had the final say in the entire allotment.”

He had said the court was required to consider that the case of all other accused “stand on a better footing as compared to Dr Manmohan Singh” who had taken the “ultimate and final decision” to allot coal block to the two Jindal companies.

Koda had alleged that as per evidence placed on record by CBI, Swaroop and Tiwari had specifically suggested withdrawal of recommendations made in favour of Lanco Infratech and further recommended enhancement of shares of JSPL from 30% to 70%.

Besides Jindal, Koda and Rao, former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and 11 others, including five companies, are accused in the case.

The other individual accused in the case are — Rajeev Jain, director of Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Girish Kumar Suneja and Radha Krishna Saraf, directors of GSIPL, Suresh Singhal, director of New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, K Ramakrishna Prasad, managing director of Sowbhagya Media Ltd, and chartered accountant Gyan Swaroop Garg.

Besides the ten accused, five firms — Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Gagan Infraenergy Ltd (formerly known as GSIPL), Sowbhagya Media Ltd and New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd — are also accused in the case.

While summoning them as accused, the court had said prima facie offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating) of IPC read with sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) (criminal misconduct by a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act were made out against them.

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