A special court on Tuesday directed the CBI to examine former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and two public servants who worked in his office in 2005, when Singh held the coal portfolio, in connection with a coal block case it is hearing.
Refusing to accept the investigating agency’s closure report in the matter, special judge Bharat Parashar told the investigating officer to question the former PM, his personal secretary BVR Subramanyam and re-examine his principal secretary TK Nair in connection with a case registered against former coal secretary PC Parekh for alleged corrupt practices during the 2005 allocation of coal blocks in Odisha to Hindalco Industries.
Instead of sending questionnaires, the CBI is likely to record the statements, said a CBI source. They will be recorded by January 26, he said. “We had examined a few then top PMO officers via questionnaires. But this time we will record statements formally,” the source said.
The court has asked the CBI to file a status report of its investigation on January 27, 2015.
In its detailed order, the court observed that a perusal of the case diary and documents showed that there had been correspondence between Singh, Parakh and Hindalco officials which raised questions about “various aspects of the matter.”
The court also added “a mark of caution” that the observations in its order were clarifications and that “nothing opined” therein was “an expression of opinion on the merits or demerits of the case”.
It said Singh — who held the additional charge of coal minister in 2005 — had to be preliminarily questioned “before the matter is examined further as to what offence, if any, stands committed or by whom the same has been committed.”
CBI has said it has received the order, is studying it and will comply with it.
In October this year the former PM had told the media, “I am not above the law of the land. If there is anything that the CBI, or for that matter, anybody wants to ask, I have nothing to hide.”