CBI to close case against Birla and Parakh this week

CBI to close case against Birla and Parakh this weekNEW DELHI: CBI today said it will close this week the case against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of Talabira-II coal block.

CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said the closure report is likely to be filed in the case this week.

The agency had reached conclusion to include names of Birla and Parakh in the FIR in connection with allocation of Talabira-II coal block after scrutinizing related files during its nearly 16 month-long preliminary enquiry.

CBI sources said that allegations leveled by it in the FIR could not be substantiated by it.

Immediately after the case was registered by the agency on October 15, 2013, Prime Minister’s office had given a detailed clarification saying, “the Prime Minister is satisfied that the final decision taken in this regard was entirely appropriate and is based on the merits of the case placed before him.”

The agency’s decision to file the FIR in which it accused Birla and Parakh of criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct on the part of government officials had come under criticism from the former Coal secretary who said in his book that “CBI is either outright incompetent or is playing a deeper game.”

He blamed CBI Director Ranjit Sinha of abusing his office by accusing him and Birla of conspiracy and corruption.

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

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”.
The agency had alleged in its FIR that 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 letter 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 Limited, along with other two companies without any valid basis or change in circumstances and with the sole intention to show undue favors to Hindalco Industries Limited,” the agency had alleged in its FIR.

The agency has said 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 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 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.” –PTI

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