Armed with documents and other crucial evidence, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has completed its investigation in the first five cases of the coal allocation scam. Among others, Congress MP Vijay Darda and his brother, Maharashtra’s education minister, Rajendra Darda, have been named in these cases. Charge sheets will soon be filed against them in the designated court.
The federal agency has so far lodged 14 FIRs in the multi-crore coal allocation scam, which has embarrassed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre.
In September 12, 2012, the CBI booked five companies — JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited, of which Vijay Darda was a director, JAS Infrastructure Capital Private Limited, AMR Iron and Steel, Navbharat Power Private Limited and Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Limited. The agency named 20 of their directors and unknown government officials in the cases.
A top CBI official told dna that the charge sheets in the five cases are ready. “It was a massive and daunting investigation. After scrutinising thousands of documents and interrogating scores of people in the last 15 months, we have been able to complete the probe in these five cases.
Charge sheets are ready and we are waiting for the final approval,” a senior CBI officer said. The investigating officer has to take legal opinion and the final nod from the CBI director’s office.
A CBI officer involved in the probe said that the agency was faced with many hurdles like non-cooperation from various state governments and union ministries. “Yes, we had to face many hurdles during the course of investigation as all the accused were politicians and top business houses. The attitude of the state government and other ministries’ officials like the coal ministry was not very upfront,” an officer said.
The CBI even apprised the apex court about the non co-operation of ministries like the coal ministry, as hundreds of case files pertaining to coal allocation were found missing from the coal ministry’s records.
According to sources, the agency booked JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited, which bagged the Fatehpur East Coal Block in Chhattisgarh, by naming Vijay Darda along with his son Devendra and other former and present directors including Rajendra Darda, mining barons Manoj Jayaswal, Anand Jayaswal and Abhishek Jayaswal. The agency has booked Devendra Darda in another case which relates to alleged irregularities on the part of AMR Iron and Steel, which got the Bander Coal Block in Maharashtra.
The CBI has also booked Vini Iron and Steel, now owned by a close associate of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and Nav Bharat Power, which is now owned by Essar Power. But, despite naming top Congress politicians like Naveen Jindal, Dasari Narayan Rao and Vijay Darda and top industrialists like Kumar Manglam Birla in its FIRs, the CBI has not been able to arrest any of the accused.
The coal block scam has cast a shadow over prime minister Manmohan Singh, whom the opposition had asked to step down for not taking “final responsibility” for irregularities in coal-block allocation. However, so far, it has affected only one politician’s status: former law minister Ashwani Kumar who was forced to resign in May after coming under fire over the vetting of a CBI report related to the scam.
Accused to be charge-sheeted