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CBI to summon PMO officials for ‘clarifications’ on coal files

Sources said that the decision has been taken on the basis of the scrutiny of Hindalco files which the CBI received on Friday from the coal ministry.

‘We have studied some files and some are still to be looked into. We may have need to clarify some points in the documents from officials from the Prime Minister’s Office,’ a senior CBI official said, adding that, ‘It is part of government offices’ functioning that a file is circulated amongst several departments. We have identified some officials and may call them for examination.’

The documents sought by CBI included those showing the correspondence between the PMO and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik regarding the latter’s request to give preference to Hindalco.

Former coal secretary PC Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla were booked by the agency in its 14th FIR for corruption and criminal conspiracy for allocating the block to Hindalco Ltd.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh two days ago had suggested that ‘he is not above the law’ and that ‘he will appear before CBI if they call him.’

A controversy had erupted last week over the identification of the 'competent authority' who took final decision pertaining to allocation of Talabira II coal block to Hindalco Ltd. 'A special attention is being given to these words: 'competent authority' which were added after approval from senior CBI officials, including CBI chief Ranjit Sinha,' the CBI sources added.

Parakh who has been defending his decision was supported by prime minister after a PMO in a statement had said that decision was taken on basis of 'merits' of the case.

The coal scam pertains to the alleged Rs 1.86-lakh-crore coal block allocation scam. In this FIR the CBI has alleged that Parakh had overturned the recommendation of the screening committee and made Hindalco a joint allottee for the Talabira-II block, after a meeting with Birla.
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