SC to decide on Manmohan’s plea

New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that its coal bench will decide whether allocation of 15 percent of Talabira II Coal Block to Hindalco by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh was beyond the cases covered under the coal block allocation scam.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said that the matter will be listed before the coal bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri.

“The matter would be listed before the coal bench, you persuade then that it did not fall within the category of the coal scam cases,” Chief Justice Dattu told senior counsel Kapil Sibal as he sought hearing of the matter next week.

However, when senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for industrialist Kumarmangalam Birla and Hindalco told the court that these were batch matters and sought their hearing post-Diwali holidays, the chief justice asked both Salve and Sibal to decide the date among themselves and the matter will be heard accordingly.

Manmohan Singh and Birla have moved the apex court for quashing criminal proceedings against them for alleged wrongdoing in the allocation of the Talabira-II coal block in Odisha to Hindalco in 2005.

The apex court on April 1 had stayed the summons issued on March 11 against Manmohan Singh and Birla by the special court holding trial of coal scam cases. It had also stayed further proceedings in the matter.

The apex court April 1 had also stayed the summons to former coal secretary P.C. Parakh, D. Bhattacharya and Hindalco.

Birla has challenged the constitutional validity of section 13(1)(d)(iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The special court had summoned Manmohan Singh, Birla and others after it rejected two closure report by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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