A Central Bureau of Investigation court on Monday said it had little doubt that coal ministry officials, members of the Maharashtra government and, perhaps, staff of the then-prime minister’s office had “facilitated misappropriation of naturalised resources” in connivance with private parties.
The observations came while throwing out certain aspects of the CBI’s case against Nagpur-based Grace Industries Ltd (GIL) – including the investigating agency’s clean chit to the company’s co-director Seema Gupta.
Special judge Bharat Parashar put the onus on the CBI to investigate her involvement further, along with that of “any other public servant.”
According to the court’s 41-page order, it noted the “nature of proceedings”, which took place before the screening committee with regard to GIL’s application for the coal block, shows government officials did “their best” to give “undue benefits” to the company, with full knowledge that it was not eligible.
It noted how former coal secretary HC Gupta had supported the company’s application for the Lohara (east) coal block in Maharashtra, despite remarks against it by former state coal minister Dasari Narayan Rao.
It went on to say that members of the PMO should have highlighted Rao’s notings when the file was submitted to ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also held the coal portfolio. The order came in a coal blocks allocation scam case in which the CBI had chargesheeted GIL and one of its directors, Mukesh Gupta, as accused of cheating and conspiracy.