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Coal scam: Kumar Mangalam Birla not off the hook, hints CBI in Supreme Court

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The Central Bureau of Investigation, or the CBI, denied that it was prepping to close its case against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla for his alleged role in swinging the allocation of a coal block in Odisha in favour of his company, Hindalco.

The CBI was forced to set the record straight after reports appeared in a section of the media that it was getting ready to wind up its probe against Mr. Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla group. “There is a lot of misinformation. Reports appeared that the case against a VIP had been closed, but that is not true and it can be seen in the status report,” CBI councel Amrendra Sharan told the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will hear the case next on March 10.

The CBI had in October last year registered an FIR against Mr. Birla and his company Hindalco for securing the mining rights of Talebira II coal block to Hindalco in 2005 through dubious means. The block had initially been allocated to Neyveli Lignite Corporation, a public sector undertaking. The CBI alleged that Mr. Birla had entered into a criminal conspiracy with former union coal secretary PC Parakh to change the ownership of the mining right. Mr. Parakh was also named in the FIR.

The CBI informed the Top Court that it will complete its investigation into the coal scam by April 30 this year. It also disclosed that it would be ready to file charge-sheets in six cases within three weeks.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the progress of the investigation in the scam, told the CBI that there was no need for it to seek the sanction of states to probe the role of government officials. The Top Court’s intervention came after the CBI revealed that as many as 18 states had not given their consent to prosecute these officials. This was in violation of the Court’s ruling that no prior sanction was required in probes monitored by it.

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