CBI may soon examine ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in connection with allocation of Talabira II coal block to Hindalco in 2005 when he was in charge of the coal ministry too. Sources say Singh, likely to be examined in a few days, will be questioned on the eligibility of the private company for bagging the coal block after rejection by the screening committee.
The former PM is also likely to be questioned on allegations levelled by CBI earlier in its FIR in 2013. It was alleged that the company got the coal block even after being rejected by the screening committee. Sources say that after the rejection the allotment may have been made after two letters were routed to the then coal secretary PC Parakh through the PMO. They also allege that a personal meeting with Kumar Mangalam Birla may have also influenced the decision. Singh can be questioned on these allegations too. However, the CBI refused to tell the exact date of questioning. Special judge Bharat Parashar had last month directed CBI to examine Singh in the case. The agency has to file its report by January 27.
CBI , in the past, had examined TKA Nair, former principal secretary to Manmohan Singh, and two more officials.
The PMO had then defended the allocation to Hindalco, saying that Singh had approved it on the basis of merits placed before him and had taken full responsibility for it. Hindalco has also defended the allocation and said that it was eligible for the block since the company was the first applicant. The company was also backed by the Odisha government.
Judge Bharat Parashar ordered CBI to examine the former PM saying “eyebrows are certainly raised” in the manner in which PMO and the coal ministry had handled Birla's plea. “If the subsequent meetings which Birla had with the PM and with PC Parakh or with Dasari Narayan Rao are seen coupled with the two letters dated May 7, 2005 and June 17, 2005 written by him to the prime minister requesting for allocation of Talabira-II coal block, then a concerted effort was being made to manipulate the entire government machinery so as to protect the interest of Hindalco,” the court had said.