New Delhi, April 1: In a temporary relief for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Supreme Court has stayed the trial court order summoning him as accused in a case pertaining to grant of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 to Aditya Birla group company Hindalco.
The apex court has put a stay on the lower court's order summoning Manmohan Singh in the scam.
The stay, which also applied to Hindalco Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, former Coal Secretary P C Parakh and three others, came after senior counsel Kapil Sibal questioned the legality of the summons to the former Prime Minister citing lack of sanction as required under the CrPC and contended that allocation of a coal block was an administrative act without any criminal intent.
"We issue notice on all six petitions. The trial court order shall remain stayed," a bench of justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan said after hearing arguments by Sibal, who represented the former Prime Minister, and other lawyers in the case. 82-year-old Singh's daughters, Upinder Singh and Daman Singh, were present in the court during the proceedings.
Manmohan challenged summons by CBI court in apex court
Singh last week had moved the Supreme Court challenging summons by CBI court in coal scam.
Earlier in the month, Manmohan was asked to appear in a CBI court in connection with the Hindalco coal-block allocation scam as an accused.
On 11th March, special CBI court summoned the former prime minister as an accused in a coal scam case. Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, former coal secretary P C Parakh and three others were also summoned as accused.
The court summoned them for offences of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. They have all been asked to appear before the court on April 8.
In September 2005, Parakh recommended the allocation of the Talabira-II and Talabira-III coal blocks jointly to Hindalco, Mahanadi Coalfields and Neyveli Lignite. Hindalco is an Aditya Birla Group firm. The-then prime minister, who was holding the additional charge of the Coal Ministry, had approved the proposal in October that year.
In October 2013, the CBI had filed an FIR in which it named Parakh and Birla for criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct. The CBI had filed its closure report in the case in August 2014, citing lack of evidence of wrongdoing against the duo.
However, the Supreme Court had in September last year pulled up the CBI for being in a hurry to close the case. The investigating agency filed its revised report in October.
Later in November, the CBI said that it has enough material on record to take cognisance of the offences. However, the court asked the CBI as to why the former prime minister was not examined and in December directed the agency to record Manmohan Singh's statement.
In January this year, the CBI presented its status report after recording the statements of the former prime minister and his aides. The CBI sought two weeks to complete its investigation.
(With agency inputs)