The CBI will file a status report today to brief the Supreme Court on its progress in the coal block allocation scam case or ‘Coal-Gate’.

This comes a week after the CBI accused one of India’s top industrialists Kumar Mangalam Birla of illegally bagging a coal mining license that was cleared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

CBI sources say the status report is likely to contain the details of the controversial FIR filed against Mr Birla, the chairman of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group, former Coal Secretary PC Parakh and the “competent authority” mentioned but not named by the investigating agency.

The CBI has alleged that two coal blocks in Odisha were illicitly granted in 2005 by Mr Parakh to Hindalco, an aluminium-making company owned by Mr Birla, though a screening committee had recommended giving the mining rights to a Public Sector Unit.
The government’s U-turn, the CBI says, was endorsed by “the competent authority.” The authority, according to Mr Parakh, was the PM himself.

Ending speculation on who had the final say in the deal, the Prime Minister’s Office came out with a statement describing Dr Singh’s decision to allocate the Odisha blocks to Hindalco as “appropriate and based on the merits of the case” placed before the PM.

The Prime Minister’s strong defence has led to speculation that the CBI may be considering the option of closing its probe into this case, which is one of the many allotments being scrutinised in the larger investigation into how underpriced coal licences were given away without a transparent bidding process.

CBI sources have told NDTV that there is no plan to close the case just yet.

Sources also told NDTV that the CBI is waiting for more documents from the Prime Minister’s office, to take a decision on whether to interrogate any PMO officials

The Supreme Court is monitoring the probe into coal block allocations since 1993 after three petitions alleging that rules were flouted in giving away the natural resources and favouring certain companies at a huge loss of crores to the government.

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