This Article is From Mar 11, 2015

Coal-Gate: Former PM Manmohan Singh Summoned as Accused, Says 'Truth Will Prevail'

File photo: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

New Delhi:

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was today summoned by a court as an accused along with five others in a case linked to the coal scam that saw mining rights being assigned without transparency to private firms.

A special CBI court also named Hindalco, its chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, and former Coal Secretary PC Parakh among the six accused. They have all been asked to appear in court on April 8.

The charges against Dr Singh and the others include criminal conspiracy, corruption and breach of trust.

"Am sure that the truth will prevail. I will be able to establish my total innocence. Of course I am upset, but this is part of life," Dr Singh told reporters.

The court rejected the CBI's finding in its final report that there was "no prosecutable evidence against anyone."

Dr Singh, who was prime minister for 10 years till his Congress party lost power last year, was reportedly questioned by the CBI in January.

The case involves the allocation of a coal field in Odisha's Talabira block in 2005 to Hindalco, which makes aluminium. At the time, Dr Singh held direct charge of the Coal Ministry.

Hindalco, a part of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group, had first been refused the coal field it sought, but the decision was later reversed.

The court order says Dr Singh "reopened matter although a screening committee had decided it and didn't refer Hindalco's request to the screening committee." His action, the court said, resulted in loss to the government and windfall profits to a private company.

In a statement, the company said today: "Hindalco reiterates that none of its officials, including its Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, have pursued any unlawful or inappropriate means for securing the allocation."

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

The Supreme Court last year scrapped nearly 214 coal blocks allocated by successive governments over the past two decades. The government is now re-auctioning the fields.