The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks during 1993-2009, is awaiting around 257 files from the coal ministry that are allegedly missing, thereby hampering its investigations.
Despite reminders from the CBI, the coal ministry is yet to respond to it since May, according to the agency’s director Ranjit Sinha."We wrote to the coal ministry in May seeking files related to coal allocation scam. We have not received any response from them yet," said Sinha. He said the CBI may exercise other options to retrieve the allegedly missing files — including requesting for a copy of such files that could be with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) — once the coal ministry confirms their missing status. "We will apprise the Supreme Court about the fact that several files are missing. The missing files are definitely hampering our probe," said Sinha.
“There is a set procedure to declare a file as missing and the coal ministry will have to abide by it. The ministry had set up a search committee to look for the files,” said another CBI source.
Of the 257 files, nearly 150 are related to the period between 1993 and 2004 in which 45 coal blocks were allocated. The rest pertain to around 11 allocations of coal blocks during 2006-09, which the CBI is probing after registering its first information report, said the source.
The records still awaited by the CBI contain key details like application forms, supporting documents, minutes of screening committee meetings, objections raised by officials and other documents, which are crucial for the CBI to determine irregularities in the allocations process, if any. The CBI has filed 13 cases as part of its probe into alleged irregularities in the allocation of captive coal blocks during 2006-09.