As the CBI filed a report in the Supreme Court with an update on its investigation into the coal scam, officers in the investigating team were also busy with dispatching a very important letter.

A note to the Prime Minister’s Office asks for all files relevant to the allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha in 2005 to Hindalco, a firm owned by top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla.

The Prime Minister’s Office has defended the mining rights for Mr Birla’s firm as “entirely appropriate” and accepted that the Prime Minister cleared the decision, at least partly because of the support for Mr Birla’s firm expressed by the Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik.

The CBI last week filed an First Information Report or FIR against Mr Birla and the government’s former Coal Secretary, PC Parkah, alleging a criminal conspiracy to benefit the industrialist’s firm.

The CBI has not directly referred to the PM in the FIR, but has referred to “the competent authority” signing off on the decision. An FIR is the first step towards the filing of formal charges.

“Let’s wait for the files to come, then we will take a decision about who to question,” said a senior official to NDTV when asked if it was now inevitable that Dr Manmohan Singh will be examined in the case.

“PM is ready to cooperate with CBI’s investigation,” Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal told NDTV today.

Mr Birla and Mr Parakh have denied any wrongdoing; the former Coal secretary has said that if the CBI believes a conspiracy was designed to help Mr Birla, the PM should be made “Accused No 1.”

The case involving Mr Birla has led to a renewed demand by the opposition for the PM’s resignation, which says he must be held accountable for how and why coal fields were given at under-priced rates to ineligible companies. The alleged swindle is worth 1.86 lakh crores according to the government’s auditor.

Courtesy: NDTV

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