Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Challenges Summons in Coal Scam Case

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Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Challenges Summons in Coal Scam Case
New Delhi: 

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Supreme Court to exempt him from appearing in a Delhi court next month in connection with the mega coal scam dubbed "Coal-Gate."

Mr Singh, 82, was ordered earlier this month to appear in a CBI court over accusations of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the allegedly illegal award of a coal field in Odisha. "There was no criminal intent and no quid pro quo," said his petition to the court.

The former Prime Minister and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla were asked to appear on April 8.

Dr Singh is being investigated for criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption.

His Congress party has called the summons a backlash against its opposition to economic reforms that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to push through Parliament.

In 2012, while Dr Singh was Prime Minister, the national auditor said 1.86 lakh crores had been lost because coal mining licenses had been issued without transparency. Late last year, the Supreme Court cancelled nearly 200 coal licenses, many of them issued by Dr Singh's government. The coal fields are now being auctioned online.

The case against Dr Singh relates to the allocation of a coal field in 2005 to Hindalco Industries, part of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group. Kumar Mangalam Birla, one of India's most respected entrepreneurs,  is the chairman of the group.

Judge Bharat Parashar said in the summons "a well planned conspiracy was hatched" to award Hindalco the field after Mr Birla actively lobbied Dr Singh, who was at the time acting as Coal Minister. The document said Dr Singh's office showed "undue interest" in the matter.  

Accused of manipulating the government, Hindalco said in a statement that it made its case during its bid to get access to the coal field "in a transparent and lawful manner".



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