NEW DELHI: Planning Commission member and former cabinet secretary B K Chaturvedi on Friday came out in defence of former coal secretary P C Parakh who has been named by the CBI in a fresh Coalgate FIR, saying he was an “upright” officer.

“I consider Parakh a very upright officer,” Chaturvedi told reporters, adding that Parakh was retained as coal secretary till his retirement as the government found no merit in allegations against him.

The clean chit came after a letter written by Parakh as coal secretary surfaced in which he said the coal mafia was within the coal ministry and the government.

On the letter, Chaturvedi said there were complaints against Parakh and he was asked to offer his comments.

“For that, he offered all these comments (letter). So based on that, we didn’t find any merit in the complaints against Parakh and rejected it… I do recall very well the people wanted to shift Parakh and we saw to it that he remained in the seat till he retired,” he said.

Parakh, who has been named as an accused in the case relating to coal block allocation to Hindalco along with industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, had responded to allegations made by the then coal minister Shibu Soren who wanted his transfer from the ministry.

In the letter in 2005, Parakh had said, “It (coal mafia) exists within the ministry of coal, coal companies, trade unions, state administrations and local political leadership. There are no easy and shortcut solutions to the problem of coal mafia in the current political and administrative milieu of the country.”