Was rule of law followed in coal blocks allocation: Court asks CBI

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A special court today asked the CBI to clarify whether "rule of law" was followed in allocation of coal blocks to top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla's Hindalco.

During the hearing on the closure report filed by the CBI in its FIR lodged against Birla, former coal secretary P C Parakh and others, the court asked the agency whether there was an act of "omission or commission" in the allocation of blocks to Hindalco.

"You (CBI) have to clarify three things. First, whether the rule of law was followed or not. Second is whether there was an act of omission or commission in it and the last one is whether the act of omission or commission, if any, has an element of criminality," Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

During the hearing, the CBI's investigating officer (IO) told the court that during their probe, they have not found any criminality in allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco.

IO said that initially the screening committee had not recommended allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco but later on it reviewed its decision at the request of Birla and said that blocks be given to Hindalco.

The judge, however, asked the IO, "whether this route was permissible to accommodate him like this."

The court also said, "we are not here to see whether coal blocks were rightly allocated. We have to see whether rule of law was followed."

However, when the judge posed the queries to the IO, he said that special public prosecutor R S Cheema would address the court on these issues.

"Further clarification has been sought. IO said that in the absence of special public prosecutor (SPP), he is not in a position to make any submission and he may be given sometime to brief the SPP so that response to the query being made by the court is accordingly given," the judge said and fixed the matter for September 12.

The CBI, on August 28, had filed a closure report in the case in which it had earlier lodged FIR against Birla, Parakh and others in one of the coal blocks allocation scam cases.

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