Coal files: PM says guilty will be punished, Opposition dissatisfied
New Delhi: Breaking his silence over missing coal files, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday promised a thorough probe, including by CBI, if the required papers are not traced so that the guilty can be punished but the opposition was dissatisfied and stalled the proceedings.
Amidst attack from the opposition, he insisted in Parliament that the government is making all efforts to locate the untraced documents and its intent to facilitate a proper probe should not be questioned as it has "nothing to hide".
Contending that there should be no "hasty" conclusion that something is "fishy", he said a "vast majority" of papers sought by CBI have already been handed over and the government will abide by the Supreme Court timeline for handing over of all the files.
"I would like to emphasise that the government is making all efforts to locate the papers requisitioned by the CBI and, at this stage, it would be premature to say that some papers are indeed missing," Singh said in identical statements in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on demands by members.
"Let me assure this august House that the government has nothing to hide," he said.
Promising action, he said, "If the records in question are indeed found missing, the government will carry out a thorough investigation and ensure that the guilty are brought to book ...If the government is unable to locate some of these papers within the stipulated time, then as directed by the court, a report will be filed with the CBI for appropriate inquiry/ investigation."
He said, "A vast majority of the papers sought by the CBI have already been handed over to them. However, disregarding the factual position, some members have gone ahead and drawn their own conclusions that there is something fishy and the government is hiding something."
His statement, however, led to a major uproar in both Houses and stalling of proceedings for rest of the day as the Opposition expressed dissatisfaction.
They wanted to seek more clarifications but were upset as the Prime Minister left soon after making the statement in both Houses.
Singh said right from the days the CAG began its exercise
of performance audit, the government has always provided its fullest cooperation to the CAG and later to the CBI. "We will continue to do so," he said.
He said the matter of allocation of coal blocks is sub-judice and the apex court is closely monitoring the CBI investigations.
"In such a situation, I urge the honorable members of this august body not to draw hasty conclusions and let the House continue with its normal business," Singh said.
The dissatisfaction among opposition benches over PM`s statement led to repeated adjournments of both Houses, which were finally adjourned for the day at 3 PM.
Earlier in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley attacked the government alleging "arbitrary allocations" and "act of nepotism, favoritism" in coal block allocations and said there is an attempt to destroy evidence so that there is no proof of crime.
"An attempt is being made to mislead the House that all files missing pertain to that prior to 2004," he said, alleging that "every conceivable element of bad governance is present there."
He also sought to know how many of the missing files pertained to the period between 2006 and 2009 when Prime Minister held the charge of the Coal Ministry and what steps the government was taking to recover the missing files.
Opposition members created uproar as they wanted to seek further clarifications from the PM who had left by then.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said he could not help as the Prime Minister had left. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said the Prime Minister had made a statement as wanted by the opposition members. For any further clarifications, Shukla said, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal was in the House to reply.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and BJP leader LK Advani wanted to speak after PM`s statement at 2 PM, but Speaker Meira Kumar rejected the demand leading to uproar and the House was adjourned till 3 PM. When the House reassembled, similar scenes were witnessed forcing its adjournment for the day.
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