Coalgate: CBI Files Closure Report in Case Against K.M. Birla

In a reprieve to top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and others, who were named as accused in its FIR in one of the coal blocks allocation scam cases, CBI has filed a closure report in a special court here.

CBI has told the court it will file some documents related to the case before it after which Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar fixed the closure report for consideration on September one. The closure report was filed in the court yesterday.

The FIR against Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh was registered in October last year by CBI which had alleged that Parakh had reversed his decision to reject coal block allocation to Hindalco within months "without any valid basis or change in circumstances" and shown "undue favours".

The FIR related to allocation of Talabira II and III coal blocks in 2005 and CBI had booked Birla, Parakh and other officials of Hindalco under various IPC sections, including criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct on the part of government officials.

During the investigation, CBI, however, had found that there was no "quid pro quo" on the part of Parakh and there was no wrongdoing in allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco.

In its FIR, the agency had alleged that during the 25th Screening Committee meeting, chaired by Parakh, applications of Hindalco and Indal Industries were rejected for mining in Talabira II and III "citing valid reasons".

On the recommendations of the Screening Committee, the coal blocks were allocated to Mahanadi Coalfields and Neyveli Lignite Corporation, both public sector undertakings.

These recommendations were placed before the "Competent Authority" which agreed with Parakh, who later issued letters of allocation to the PSUs on June 16 and July 15 of 2005.

Within days, a "personal meeting" took place between Parakh and Birla in which the industrialist requested for the allocation of Talabira II coal block, CBI had said.

"Pursuant to these letters and personal meeting between Parakh and Birla, Parakh, by abusing his official position as a public servant recommended the allocation of Talabira II along with Talabira III coal block to Hindalco Industries Ltd, along with other two companies without any valid basis or change in circumstances and with the sole intention to show undue favours to Hindalco Industries Limited," the agency had alleged in its FIR.

CBI had alleged that Parakh recommended formation of a joint venture between Mahanadi Coalfields, Neyveli Lignite and Hindalco with equity share holding of 70 per cent, 15 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

The FIR had alleged that inclusion of Hindalco reduced the share of Neyveli Lignite in the coal field.

"Due to this arrangement, the proposed power project of the NLC could not take off as planned," it had alleged.

Defending his decision, Parakh had said, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with the decision. It was a very fair and correct decision that we took. I don't know why CBI thought that there is a conspiracy."

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