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Supreme Court pulls up CBI for delay in coal scam probe

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Agency names Navabharat Power and its two directors in the first charge sheet.

Questioning CBI for the delay on its part, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant more time to complete investigation in various cases pertaining to the coal block allocation scam and directed it to file charge sheets in five of the six cases by March 28.

The apex court said despite recording a statement on February 10 that the charge sheets in six of the cases would be filed within three weeks, there is a delay by the agency.

"This is no way. Why should it be delayed at all. Ultimately it has to be done by you. You only said (on February 10) lawyers need to advise the agency," a bench comprising justices R M Lodha, Madan B Lokur and Kurien Joseph said. The bench questioned the agency for the delay after CBI counsel Amarender Sharan sought four weeks' time to file the charge sheets in five cases on the ground that certain aspects needed to be gone into.

The Investigating agency filed its first charge sheet in one of the FIRs related to coal scam earlier in the day against Nav Bharat Power Pvt Ltd.

The charge sheet, filed before a trial court, has named the firms and two of its directors -- P Trivikrama Prasad and Y Harish Chandra Prasad -- for alleged conspiracy and cheating.

Meanwhile, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for a petitioner NGO, opposed the CBI plea, contending that it was intended to take it beyond the general election.
He said that during the last hearing, the CBI said the investigation was almost complete and it was ready to file the charge sheets but now it is indulging in delaying tactics.

Seeking the court's intervention at this stage, the counsel said, "This is a serious situation and the court should step in."

The apex court also sought response from the CBI on income tax department's plea seeking a direction to it to allow its (Income Tax) officers to inspect documents seized by the investigation agency from the premises of Hindalco in order to initiate proceedings against Aditya Birla Group under the Income Tax Act.

The department moved an application as the apex court had earlier restrained the agency, investigating the coal block allocation scam, from sharing any information and documents pertaining to its probe with any other department without its approval.

Appearing for the department, Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad assured the court that CBI probe in the case will not in anyway be affected if it is allowed to go through the documents seized by the agency.

"It is learnt that the CBI had conducted countrywide searches at the premises of Hindalco Industries Ltd in October 2013 and it is believed that the CBI has seized certain documents some of which may be relevant for the proceedings under the Income Tax Act," it said.

During the last hearing on February 10, the bench had also recorded CBI's statement that it would complete the probe on all preliminary inquiries and regular cases registered by it by April end.

The CBI has initiated around 16 regular cases on coal block allocations, including those against MP Naveen Jindal and former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao in relation to coal block allocation and against K M Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh for alleged illegality in grant of blocks to Hindalco Industries Ltd.

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