The Central Bureau of Investigation is all set to quiz the top guns of the Prime Minister’s Office in its coalgate scam probe. Highly placed sources confirmed to Mail that among those likely to face CBI questioning include TKA Nair, who was principal secretary to Prime Minister in 2009 when he also handled the coal portfolio. Mr Nair, a former IAS officer of the Punjab cadre, now holds the rank of a minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Also in the CBI’s sights is then joint secretary Mr Javed Usmani now the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh. The agency is expected to seek some information from former director in the PMO Vini Mahajan, an IAS officer of the Punjab cadre who is now Principal Secretary (Health) in the Punjab government. The CBI list includes former coal secretary Mr C Balakrishnan as well.

Sources said that the questioning of these officials would be pivotal for the ongoing probe, but this may only widen the faultlines between the government and the premier investigating agency as it is unlikely that the Prime Minister will allow the questioning of his close confidante and key aide Nair, who still wields considerable influence in the PMO.

Mr Nair is no longer principal secretary to the prime minister, but continues to serve as adviser. The CBI is going to seek permission to question under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Act. It is unlikely that the Prime Minister’s office will grant permission as letting Nair be questioned by the CBI may embarrass the Prime Minister further and draw the coalgate taint closer to his doorstep.

The government has last week turned down a CBI request on questioning former coal secretary HC Gupta now a member of the Competition Commission of India, in connection with the irregularities in allocation of coal blocks.

Sources said that the request was turned down by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs despite the agency arguing that Gupta’s questioning was important as he was secretary between 2006 and 2009, a period that is under the scanner.

Courtesy: Daily Mail

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