The Central Bureau of Investigation has directed its attention on the role of the Prime Minister’s Office. The agency says it is quite aware of the fact that the ‘competent authority’ as mentioned in its latest FIR on the coal blocks scam is none other than the PMO.
The CBI has made it clear that its investigation will look into role of ‘competent authority’ which the agency has mentioned in its FIR against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC Parakh.
CBI has claimed that during initial rounds of questioning, former coal secretary Parakh had disclosed that his decision was endorsed by “the competent authority”. The PMO in a recent statement confirmed that the prime minister, who was heading the coal ministry at that time, ‘approved the proposal on October 1, 2005’. “We knew that it was the Prime Minister’s Office which cleared that file of Talabira coal block. And this fact was endorsed by the former coal secretary PC Parakh also during his questioning. At this moment, we are not leaving any stone unturned, as it is a Supreme Court-monitored probe. We are also looking into the role of the prime minister’s office as well,” said a top CBI official.
The CBI officials have also said that some officials of the PMO will be asked to explain their position at the later stage, when it is required.
“We cannot jump the gun by saying that PMO officials will be questioned. But, surely, some of them will have to explain their position, when required. After all, the PMO was the one which gave the final approval for Talabira allocation,” the official added.
The CBI is expected to file a chargesheet in the case against Birla and Parakh within the time limit of 60 days. For this, CBI will have to interrogate Parakh and other top office-bearers of Hindalco.
In a case registered last week, the agency said that two coal blocks in Odisha were illegally granted in 2005 by Parakh to Hindalco, an aluminium-making company owned by Birla. The agency says that Parakh’s decision was endorsed by the ‘competent authority’.
Even Parakh has also told media that he did not take the decision on his own and it was sanctioned by the minister-in-charge. And at that point of time the minister-in-charge was the prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Meanwhile, the CBI will file its status report in the Supreme Court on its coal scam probe on Tuesday.