The Supreme Court will take up on Wednesday former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s petition challenging the summons issued to him by a special court in connection with a coal scam case.
A bench of justice V Gopala Gowda and justice C Naggapan will also take up petitions filed by industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, Hindalco Industries managing director Debnarayan Bhattacharya and former coal secretary P C Parakh, who too were summoned as accused in the same case.
They approached the apex court, which monitored the CBI probe into the coal scam, as it had restrained high courts from entertaining any petition against orders of the special CBI court.
The special court had on March 11 issued summons to them, asking them to appear before it as accused and face trial for charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code.
The summons were based on the allegation that allocation of the Talabira-II coal block in Odisha was changed from Neyveli Lignite Corporation to a joint venture of Mahanadi coal fields, NLC and Hindalco, causing loss to the exchequer. Singh held the coal ministry portfolio at that time.
The trial judge had said the decision to change the allocation from NLC to the joint venture went against the public interest.
Singh’s petition described as "ridiculous" the logic behind the summons. It said an administrative decision could be "good or bad" but it was unheard of to introduce criminality into the decision by describing it post-facto as going against public interest.
The petition asked for the special judge’s order to be struck down on the grounds that it was bad in law as it failed to fix any specific act of criminality on Singh.
It further argued that Singh cannot be charged with favouritism because there was no coal policy in 2005 when the fields in question were allocated, and so the trial court’s proceedings should be stopped.