The CBI on Tuesday wrote to the prime minister’s office, seeking all documents related to the allocation of coal blocks to Aditya Birla-promoted firm Hindalco Industries.
This comes three days after the top office said prime minister Manmohan Singh approved it on the basis of “merits” of the case placed before him.
The agency stressed there was no question of closing down the case against Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC Parakh.
“The Supreme Court is monitoring the coal scam probe. And there is no question of backtracking.
We are going to investigate and submit our findings before the apex court,” a senior CBI officer said.
“The decision to book country’s top-most industrialist and a key bureaucrat was not taken in haste. It happened only after a thorough investigation and after due diligence.”
The CBI claims that the agency wants to review the Talabira coal blocks allocation files before proceedings with the investigation which includes interrogating the accused named in the FIR.
CBI sources said the move came after filing of status report before the Supreme Court where the agency has informed the apex court about the latest case registered by it against Birla and Parakh.
The agency has also mentioned about “competent authority” in the FIR which the PMO had explained in its statement is the prime minister who was holding the charge as coal minister in 2005 when the decision was taken.
PMO has termed the decision to allot Talabira coal block to Hindalco “appropriate”.
Reacting to the CBI action, V Narayansamy, minister of state in the PMO, said: “We have given around 150,000 documents to the CBI for its investigation into the coal scam. Whatever more papers are required by the CBI will be given. We have been supporting the CBI in its investigation.
We are an open and transparent government. We have nothing to hide.”
The CBI in its FIR alleged that while the recommendations of the screening committee, which had rejected Hindalco’s application citing “valid reasons”, were approved by the “competent authority”, it received letters dated May 17, 2005, and June 17, 2005, from Birla requesting allocation of the Talabira II coal block, which were forwarded to the coal ministry.
Birla met Parakh in July, 2005, requesting allocation of the block, according to the FIR. “Pursuant to these letters and the meeting between Parakh and Birla, the former abused his official position and recommended the allocation of Talabira II along with Talabira III to Hindalco Industries without any valid basis or change in circumstances and with the sole intention to show undue favours,” it alleged.
Parakh has contended that while he did make the recommendation, it was the prime minister who took the final decision on it.
Also, the CBI on Tuesday filed a fresh status report in a sealed envelope in the Supreme Court giving details of the ongoing investigation.
The apex court had criticised CBI during the last hearing on August 29, saying the agency was still in the “first gear” and needed to pick up speed. The apex court had directed CBI to conclude the probe against all companies, which were allocated coal blocks, by December.
(With agency inputs)