Coal blocks case: Court rejects plea to summon Manmohan

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) A court here on Friday dismissed the plea of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda for summoning of former prime minister Manmohan Singh as an accused in a coal block allocation case allegedly involving firms owned by the Jindal group of industries, saying it did not find any sufficient evidence warranting such a course of action.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar rejected Koda’s plea seeking summoning of Manmohan Singh, who was holding coal portfolio at that time, and others in Jharkhand’s Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation case.

“…at this stage of the matter I do not find sufficient evidence warranting his summoning as an accused in the present case,” the court said.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also opposed the plea saying that there is no prima facie evidence against Manmohan Singh in the case.

The court while delivering its order took note of CBI’s submission that if Manmohan Singh wanted to favour any company specifically, then he would not have referred the matter for reconsideration to coal ministry.

As regard routing of the file through the desk of minister of state for coal, it was stated that the same was in accordance with the rules of transaction of business in central government, the court observed.

In his plea, Koda said: “Materials placed by the CBI shows the said conspiracy, if any, cannot be complete without the involvement of the (then) coal minister (Manmohan Singh) who had the final say in the entire allotment.”

He also sought summoning of the then energy secretary Anand Swaroop and the then mines secretary Jai Shankar Tiwari, saying they were part of the three-member sub-group formed by the Jharkhand government to evaluate the pleas of firms and suggest suitable application for recommendation by the state.

The court also rejected the plea for summoning Tiwari and Swaroop observing that there is no sufficient evidence against them.

The CBI told the court that Swaroop and Tiwari has been named as prosecution witnesses in the case and the probe agency did not find any evidence against them too.

Apart from Koda, Congress leader Naveen Jindal, former union minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and others have been named as accused in the case.

They have been charge sheeted for criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Rao, supporting Koda’s application, has said that it was the prime minister’s office which had examined and re-examined the issue of allocation of coal block and that the decision of the allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal to Jindal Steel and Gagan Sponge was taken on the behest of Manmohan Singh.

However, Congress leader and industrialist Jindal had submitted that neither he is opposing nor supporting Koda’s application. He added that any order passed by the court on Koda’s application should not prejudice the rights of the accused to seek discharge from the case.

Meanwhile, the court warned in its order that if during the course of trial sufficient evidence warranting summoning of any other public servant or private person came on record, then the law will certainly take its own course.

The court will hear arguments on charge in the case from November 2.

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