Missing files, stubborn states hit coal probe
The CBI investigation into the coal block allocation scam is in a deep mess. Not only are crucial documents untraceable but state governments are also sitting on the agency's requests to probe joint ventures formed between private companies and state-owned entities.delhi Updated: Aug 20, 2013 02:15 IST
The CBI investigation into the coal block allocation scam is in a deep mess.
Not only are crucial documents untraceable but state governments are also sitting on the agency's requests to probe joint ventures formed between private companies and state-owned entities. And a former probe officer is under investigation on the charges of seeking money from an accused.
"We will infrom the Supreme Court that several files are missing, hampering our probe," CBI director Ranjit Sinha told HT. "We have sent several reminders (to the coal ministry) about the missing files."
Opposition parties on Monday gunned for the government over reports of untraceable files, alleging a controversy to save PM Manmohan Singh. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla assured the Rajya Sabha that coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal would make a statement but gave no time frame.
The CBI has to file a status report by August 29.
CBI investigators say untraceable documents have become a major stumbling block as far as the probe into the allocations between 2006 and 2009 is concerned.
"We have registered 13 FIRs pertaining to the 2006-09 allocations. The agency is yet to get the minutes of the 26th screening committee, key to ascertaining and determining irregularities, if any, in the process through which applicants for coal block allocations were selected and eliminated," said a CBI official.
Besides the missing documents, only two states - Kerala and Jharkhand - out of 20 have given the CBI the sanction to probe joint ventures. "In case of Jharkhand, we were just lucky as it was under President's rule at the time of giving sanction," said a senior agency official.
According to sources, the states that are yet to give sanction include the two major mining states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which are ruled by the BJP.
The CBI is also probing one of its senior officers, superintendent of police Vivek Dutt, on the allegation of planning to seek a bribe from Vimal Patni, an accused in one of the coal scam cases. Dutt was removed from the probe after he was arrested in another bribery case.