In a 10-minute reply to the opposition on multi-crore coal scam , Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said that “the government had nothing to hide and that the efforts were on to locate the missing files.
He said, “Some people have drawn their own conclusion that something is fishy about the missing coal files.” That is wrong, he said and added that about 1 lakh 50 thousand pages had already been submitted to the Central Bureau of Investigation probing the case. Read: PM's full statement
The government had always provided its fullest cooperation to the CAG and the CBI and “we will continue to do so,” he said in the Rajya Sabha.
“We are following hon'ble SC orders in letter and spirit,” Singh said and added, “It is too early to say the files are missing.” The government will do its best to hand over the remaining files to the CBI, he said.
However, the BJP leaders said the PM didn’t answer the charges and that he was trying to escape.
The BJP has been demanding for a statement from the Prime Minister, who earlier held the coal portfolio from 2006 to 2009 when the coal blocks were allocated.
The CBI had on August 14 written a letter to the coal ministry, stating that 225 files and documents relating to coal blocks allocation cases had still not been handed over to it by the ministry. This included 167 files pertaining to the pre-2004 era, when the National Democratic Alliance was in power.
The CBI has said that these files and documents were necessary for concluding the probe against various firms booked by the agency for alleged manipulation and concealing of facts.
It may be recalled that the UPA government on August 28 had admitted before the Supreme Court that certain documents related to the coalgate scam were untraceable and efforts were on to locate them.
In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the coal ministry had said around 173 applications of private companies which had applied for allocation of coal blocks were missing.
Of these, 157 belong to those applicants who had applied before June 2004 but were not allocated coal blocks. The ministry further admitted that seven of the 43 files, wanted by the CBI, were still untraceable. Efforts are also being made to trace nine documents which the CBI wants to complete its probe.
For the purpose of locating the records, the government had constituted an inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of additional secretary, coal ministry.
An inter-ministerial group (IMG) was constituted to find out the missing files in July under the chairmanship of additional secretary coal A K Dubey.
Minister of state for coal, Pratik Prakashbapu Patil, had earlier in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha said, "Of the 43 files, 21 have already been handed over to the CBI, 15 are available for handing over and CBI has been requested to collect the same. Efforts are being made to locate the rest 7 files.