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Manmohan pained over summons

Manmohan pained over summons
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All of the three were asked to appear before the trial court on April 8. The CBI special court has observed that Singh was roped into the criminal conspiracy to “accommodate” Hindalco in Odhisa’s Talabira-II coal block allocation in 2005, owned by Aditya Birla Group. Besides them, the court has also summoned Hindalco’s two executives Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya, as accused in the matter.

“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,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said in his 73-page order. “It is also prima facie clear that though Secretary Coal and Minister of Coal 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,” Judge’s order read.

“His (ex-PM) approval of the proposal put-forth by P C Parakh vide his note dated September 12, 2005 to accommodate M/s HINDALCO in Talabira-II and III coal block while ignoring the words of caution put-forth by K V Pratap and Javed Usmani, the two officers of PMO in their notes dated September 21, 2005 and September 26, 2005 respectively regarding relaxation of the already approved guidelines, again prima facie shows that there was a conscious effort on his part to somehow accommodate M/s HINDALCO in Talabira-II coal block,” the judge added.

Reacting over the summon, former PM said, “Of course, I am upset but this is part of life. I have always said I am open for legal scrutiny. I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all the facts.” All of them were charged with punishable offences under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). If found guilty, they might face punishment up to life imprisonment.

A statement issued by Hindalco claimed that none of its officials, including Birla, have pursued any unlawful or inappropriate means for securing the allocation of the coal block. Parakh too expressed surprise over the court summons and maintained that he had done nothing wrong or illegal.

This is not the first time a former PM has been summoned as accused in a criminal case. Late PM P V Narasimha Rao was made an accused and chargesheeted in three different cases, including in the JMM MPs bribery case, but was acquitted in all of them.

Meanwhile, Congress party spokesperson Sanjay Jha said, “Sorry to puncture the brouhaha, but receiving a court summons does not make one guilty. That is elementary law. Right?”
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