This Article is From Jan 27, 2015

CBI Submits Sealed Report on Former PM Manmohan Singh's Questioning in Coal Scam

CBI Submits Sealed Report on Former PM Manmohan Singh's Questioning in Coal Scam
New Delhi: The CBI today filed a sealed report in court that reportedly has details of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's questioning about one of the cases linked to Coal-Gate, the alleged scam that saw mining rights being assigned without any transparency to private firms.

The investigating agency has reportedly told a special court that the sealed cover should not be opened until its probe is complete.

The CBI has not confirmed reports that it questioned Dr Singh at his home earlier this month, to ask him about how a coal field in Talabira block that was allotted in 2005 to Hindalco, whose billionaire chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, is one of the country's most respected industrialists.  At the time, Dr Singh held direct charge of the Coal Ministry.

The agency told the court that it is filing a progress report in compliance with the orders of the court, which had in December asked for Dr Singh to be examined.

Before the court's order, the CBI had suggested it would like to drop the case against Hindalco, which makes aluminum.

Hindalco, which is part of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group, had first been refused the coal field it sought, but the decision was later reversed.  The company has denied any wrongdoing and the PM had in a statement in 2013 defended the action.

The scam dubbed "Coal-Gate" surfaced after the national auditor's report in 2012 questioned the government's practice of awarding coal mining concessions to companies without competitive bidding.

The Supreme Court last year scrapped nearly 214 coal blocks allocated by successive governments over the past two decades.  They will now be auctioned online.