No One Stole Our Coal

As cru­cial coal al­lo­ca­tion files go miss­ing, the CBI case on Coal­gate is on the verge of fall­ing apart

India Today - - INSIDE - By Bhavna Vij- Aurora

As cru­cial coal al­lo­ca­tion files go miss­ing, the CBI case on Coal­gate is on the verge of fall­ing apart.

On Fe­bru­ary 13, Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion ( CBI) Di­rec­tor Ran­jit Sinha told Par­lia­ment’s Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee ( PAC) for the first time that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Rs 1.86- lakhcrore coal block al­lo­ca­tion scam was be­ing ham­pered be­cause the coal min­istry was not mak­ing cru­cial files avail­able to the agency. Ques­tioned about the tardy progress of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Sinha told PAC that CBI had not got files re­lated to the al­lo­ca­tion of 40 coal blocks and meet­ings of the screen­ing com­mit­tee de­spite re­peated re­minders to the min­istry.

Six months later, af­ter a grudg­ing ad­mis­sion about the miss­ing files from Coal Min­is­ter Sriprakash Jaiswal in Par­lia­ment on Au­gust 17, the CBI chief now says that in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the Coal­gate scam have hit a road­block, and that the case will suf­fer a huge set­back if the files are not found. “I can­not say yet if the case is as good as over but it has def­i­nitely been di­luted. The files are cru­cial to es­tab­lish ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the al­lo­ca­tion of coal blocks,” Sinha told IN­DIA TO­DAY. The im­pli­ca­tion is clear— pow­er­ful coal block al­lot­tees linked to the Congress will be let off the hook. Th­ese in­clude Congress MPs Vi­jay Darda and Naveen Jin­dal as the files per­tain­ing to coal block al­lo­ca­tions to their com­pa­nies are among the 257 miss­ing ones. The miss­ing files cover the pe­riod of coal block al­lo­ca­tion be­tween 1993 and 2009 but most of the 13 FIRs and three pre­lim­i­nary en­quiries by CBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors per­tain to al­lo­ca­tions be­tween 2006 and 2009 when Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh was han­dling the coal port­fo­lio.

Sources in the Govern­ment claim that the “miss­ing files” rep­re­sent not only an at­tempt to help Congress politi­cians, but also to save Man­mo­han Singh the em­bar­rass­ment. “The at­tempts are crude and bla­tant. First, the then law min­is­ter Ash­wani Kumar tried to pres­surise CBI by vet­ting the probe re­port to be sub­mit­ted to the Supreme Court in March. And, now, this ab­sur­dity of im­por­tant files hav­ing gone miss­ing,” says a CBI of­fi­cial in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the case.

The miss­ing files, among oth­ers, per­tain to coal block al­lo­ca­tions to AMR Iron and Steel Pri­vate limited, JLD Ya­vat­mal En­ergy Limited, JAS In­fra­struc­ture Cap­i­tal Pri­vate Limited and Jin­dal Steel and Power Ltd ( JSPL). The Nag­pur- based com­pa­nies, AMR and JLD Ya­vat­mal En­ergy, have close ties to Vi­jay Darda. The FIR against AMR names its Di­rec­tors Arvind Kumar Jayaswal, Manoj Jayaswal, Ramesh Jayaswal and Deven­dra Darda. The one against JLD names Vi­jay Darda, Ra­jen­dra Darda, Deven­dra Darda and Manoj Jayaswal. The ac­cused in the case against JAS In­fra­struc­ture are Manoj Jayaswal and Abhishek Jayaswal. Jin­dal was named in the 12th FIR along with an­other Con­gress­man, for­mer min­is­ter of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, by CBI. AMR Di­rec­tor Arvind Jayaswal was ear­lier ques­tioned by CBI sleuths in Jan­uary about his al­leged links with Coal Min­is­ter Jaiswal and also for­mer coal min­is­ter San­tosh Ba­gro­dia.

The CBI di­rec­tor says that he kept rais­ing the is­sue of the miss­ing files and in­for­ma­tion not be­ing shared by the coal min­istry time and again. The Supreme Court, on Au­gust 6, or­dered

the Govern­ment to co­op­er­ate with the CBI probe and ur­gently share the doc­u­ments re­quested by the in­ves­ti­gat­ing agency. “It all ap­pears to be part of a con­certed ef­fort to di­lute the case,” com­plains a CBI of­fi­cial.

How­ever, the CBI di­rec­tor thinks the case can be sal­vaged. “The Govern­ment has not told us of­fi­cially about the miss­ing files. We will wait till it tells us or some­how gives us the files. In the mean­time, we will in­form the Supreme Court about the sta­tus of the case on Au­gust 29 and wait for fur­ther di­rec­tions,” says Sinha.

In the sce­nario of CBI not get­ting the files, the di­rec­tor says that it will try to re­con­struct them by trac­ing their move­ment record and from other records. CBI sources claim that even if they do man­age to re­con­struct the main com­po­nents of the files— a long and painstak­ing pro­ce­dure— they will never get the not­ings that may have been put on the files to favour a par­tic­u­lar per­son or com­pany.

Of the to­tal miss­ing files, nearly 150 per­tain to the 1993- 2004 pe­riod in which 45 coal blocks were al­lo­cated. Other files re­late to al­lo­ca­tions bet- ween 2006 and 2009, and with com­mu­ni­ca­tion among var­i­ous min­istries and states. CBI sources claim that it would be vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to sub­stan­ti­ate al­le­ga­tions of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of facts by the ben­e­fi­cia­ries and the favours given by the Govern­ment. The files con­tain doc­u­ments like ap­pli­ca­tion forms, sup­port­ing docu-

IF THE FILES ARE NOT FOUND, THE POW­ER­FUL AL­LOT­TEES LINKED TO THE CONGRESS WILL BE LET OFF THE HOOK.

ments, min­utes of screen­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings, ob­jec­tions raised by of­fi­cials and other records.

CBI says it is ready to in­ves­ti­gate whether the ev­i­dence has been wil­fully de­stroyed but for that the min­istry has to reg­is­ter an FIR. Jaiswal re­fused to comment when con­tacted by IN­DIA TO­DAY, say­ing that he would make a state­ment in Par­lia­ment on Au­gust 22. In an ear­lier state­ment in Ra­jya Sabha on Au­gust 20, Jaiswal had said that he had con­sti­tuted an in­ter- min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee to look into the case of the miss­ing files. His ex­pla­na­tion to a news chan­nel that files could not be lo­cated since they were stacked ver­ti­cally, one on top of the other, is laugh­able. Coal min­istry of­fi­cials were re­port­edly in the process of plac­ing them hor­i­zon­tally to see what they were all about. “Next we will have to check the air qual­ity in the coal min­istry’s stor­age room. The min­is­ter will say that it is too thin and makes files dis­ap­pear,” quips a se­nior leader of the Op­po­si­tion BJP.

The Coal­gate case, for one, is def­i­nitely un­der threat of dis­ap­pear­ing into thin air.

CBI DI­REC­TOR RAN­JIT SINHA

Www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

PARVEEN NEGI/

REUTERS

COALMINISTER SRIPRAKASH

JAISWAL

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