CBI yet to zero in on evidence against coal ministry babus

CBI is yet to zero in on evidence against public servants who were part of screening committee which cleared allocation of coal blocks to Nav Bharat Power Pvt Ltd, company accused of cheating.

PTI| Updated: Mar 10, 2014, 20:47 PM IST

New Delhi: Even after 18 months of inquiries, CBI is yet to zero in on any evidence against public servants who were part of a screening committee which cleared the allocation of coal blocks to Nav Bharat Power Pvt Ltd, the company accused by the agency of cheating in its first charge sheet in the coal scam.

CBI in its charge sheet today, largely based on the facts mentioned in its FIR, has kept the investigation against public servants open, indicating that it has failed to conclusively establish their role in allowing the allocation.

The company allegedly misrepresented facts and inflated its net worth in order to become eligible for the Rampia and Dip Rampia coal blocks, which were allocated to it in 2008 after the same was cleared by the 35th screening committee.

"Inquiry also revealed that officials of Ministry of Coal, in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy, wilfully and purposefully, did not scrutinise the aforesaid documents regarding the false claims/concealment of facts by Nav Bharat Power Pvt Ltd and thus facilitated the company in getting undue advantage in the allocation of the Rampia and Dip Side of Rampia Coal blocks," CBI has alleged in its FIR.

The agency questioned the then Screening Committee Chief HC Gupta, the former coal secretary and other members of the committee in this regard, but failed to get any conclusive evidence as to why the panel had not properly scrutinised the inflated net-worth given by the company.

When asked why had CBI, which gave detailed information on alleged misrepresentation made by the company in its FIR, failed to establish allegations against coal ministry officials, agency spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said that the investigation was still open.
The agency even failed to establish any quid pro quo which would have enabled Nav Bharat Power Pvt Ltd to bag the two coal blocks which it later sold to another power company, making windfall gains of nearly Rs 200 crore.

The CBI spokesperson termed the sale illegal on the grounds that if the allocation of coal blocks to the company was in violation of norms, then its further sale was also illegal.

However, the company which purchased Nav Bharat Power Pvt Ltd has not been made an accused in the charge sheet.

Based on its three-month long inquiry in 2012, CBI had found enough prima facie material about "commission of offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and abuse of official position".

However, even after a detailed probe, the agency failed to establish the charges of abuse of official position in its charge sheet, which was filed today before the Special CBI court at Patiala House here.

This is the first charge sheet filed by CBI out of 16 FIRs lodged by it till date in the multi-crore scam against various firms and top corporates, including industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and Congress MP Naveen Jindal.

CBI`s move to file the charge sheet before the trial court today came hours before it was scheduled to apprise the Supreme Court of the ongoing investigation in the case.

CBI has filed the charge sheet against M/s Navabharat Power Pvt Ltd, its two directors P Trivikrama Prasad and Y Harish Chandra Prasad ?? for commission of offences punishable under IPC Sections for criminal conspiracy and cheating, the spokesperson said in a statement.

"The role of public servants in the aforesaid case is under further investigation," she said.