New Delhi | The coal scam came back to haunt ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was today summoned as an accused in the case by a special CBI court which observed that he was roped into a criminal conspiracy to accommodate a major private company in coal block allocation.
An upset Singh, who became only the second former Prime Minister to be summoned as an accused in a criminal case after P V Narasimha Rao, reacted to the embarrassment by stating that he was open to legal scrutiny in the matter that pertains to 2005 when he also held the Coal portfolio.
I hope in a fair trial I will prove my innocence, said the 83-year-old Singh whose government had been rocked by the Coal scam highlighted by the CAG report in 2012 which projected a loss of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer.
Also summoned as accused in the case were industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, whose HINDALCO company was controversially allocated Talabira-II in Odisha in 2005, the company itself and two of its officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya besides former Coal Secretary P C Parakh.
Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar has asked Singh and the other five accused to appear before him on April 8.
Narasimha Rao had been made an accused and chargesheeted in three different cases including the JMM MPs bribery case in 1996 but was subsequently acquitted.
CBI had sought closure of the case against Birla and others but the court had rejected the closure report and directed examination of Singh by the investigators.
In a 73-page detailed order, judge Parashar said …prima facie it is clear that the impugned criminal conspiracy which was initially conceived by Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya and Kumar Mangalam Birla and M/s HINDALCO was carried out further by roping in P C Parakh, who was Secretary (Coal), and thereafter the then Minister of Coal, Dr Manmohan Singh.
The order said that from the nature of action of the accused, it was prima facie clear that though Parakh and Singh were playing different roles, there was a concerted joint effort to somehow accommodate M/s HINDALCO in Talabira-II, coal block. It was the central common objective of the impugned criminal conspiracy known to all concerned.
If found guilty, the accused may face punishment of upto life imprisonment as the court has taken cognisance of offences of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by public servants or by banker, merchant or agent under the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
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