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CBI pulled up for filing closure report against Birla over Odisha coal block in a hurry


New Delhi, Sep 12 :

A special court here Friday pulled up the CBI over the missing file with original minutes of the screening committee meetings dealing with the Kumar Mangalam Birla-promoted Hindalco’s application for allocation of coal blocks in Odisha and asked what was the hurry in filing the closure report in the matter.

Kumar Mangalam Birla
Kumar Mangalam Birla

Special Judge Bharat Parashar asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) what was the hurry in filing the closure report in the coal block allocation case against Birla and others after the agency in its closure report observed that a few files were missing.

“Where are the original minutes of screening committee meetings, in which Hindalco group application was dealt with for allocation of coal block? Where are its original documents?” the court asked the CBI.

As the investigating officer of the case exhibited photocopies of the documents related to application form, the court asked whether they had been authenticated by the officials of the coal ministry.

The officer said the documents were seized in the presence of bank officials.

Rejecting the CBI’s contention, the court asked what provisions of law prevented it from getting the documents authenticated from ministry officials. “Can a bank official authenticate the documents of the ministry?” it asked.

The officer then told the court that the original documents were missing.

An irked court then warned that it will initiate a preliminary inquiry for losing files of the case.

It told CBI that there are three steps of investigation – collecting facts, then understanding the circumstances and at last, drawing a conclusion, but the CBI missed the second step and filed a report without understanding circumstances.

It sought to know on what basis CBI has drawn such a conclusion to close the case and what kind of investigation it has conducted.

The court observed that in other cases of coal block allocation, CBI has filed blank pages as a document annexed with charge sheet. In a few cases the documents are not readable, it said, asking why the CBI is dumping illegible documents which the judge is not able to read.

It set Sep 22 as the next date of hearing.

Earlier during the proceedings, the court asked the CBI to clarify whether an element of criminality was involved while allocating the coal blocks to Hindalco.

The CBI booked Birla, former coal secretary P.C. Parakh and others on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the allocation of coal blocks in October 2013.

It filed a closure report in the case Aug 28, saying “the evidence collected during investigation did not substantiate the allegations levelled against the persons named in the FIR”.