Coal scam: Former top bureaucrat drags Manmohan Singh’s name

Wednesday, May 27, 2015,20:11 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | A former top bureaucrat in the UPA government today dragged the name of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the coalgate by telling a special court that he took the ultimate decision as the then coal minister in allocation of the coal blocks.
Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, an accused in the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL), said Singh had the final authority to take decisions.
Gupta’s claim came a week after a similar statement by former Minister Dasari Narayan Rao, who had also alleged that the decision on final allocation was taken by the Minister of Coal who was the then Prime Minister.
Rao is an accused in another case relating to the allocation of coal block to Congress leader Naveen Jindal’ group firms. During the arguments on framing of charges today, Gupta’s counsel argued that he was chairman of screening committee and was empowered to only recommend allocation of blocks whereas the minister-in-charge of the Coal Ministry was the final authority who took the decision.
The ultimate power to allocate coal block was with the then Prime Minister of India (Singh), who was also the Coal Minister at that time, Gupta’s counsel told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar. The counsel said that being the chairman of the screening committee, Gupta had sent the recommendation to the then Coal Minister who after exercising all his wisdom and discretion, decided to allocate coal block to somebody (applicant firm).
Secretary of Coal Ministry does not have dominion over coal. Union of India was having part dominion (over it). The Coal Minister was having the dominion over the coal blocks, the counsel said. He said secretary of a ministry was only an advisor of the minister-in-charge and the final decision was of the minister.
Gupta cannot take decision on its own. Only the Minister of Coal was competent to take the final decision, he said. During the hearing, lawyers for some of the co-accused also advanced their arguments on framing of charges. The court has now fixed the case for May 29 when CBI’s prosecutor will rebut the arguments of the accused.