In a major relief for former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Supreme Court has stayed all proceedings against him in the coal scam. The apex court has put a stay on the lower court’s order summoning the former PM in the scam.
A special CBI court had summoned him as an accused on the April 8. The summons were in connection to the allocation of the Talabira coal blocks to Hindalco in 2005.
Singh, along with 5 others including industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla have been accused of criminal conspiracy and breach of trust. The court accused Manmohan Singh of showing ‘undue interest’ in the allocation.
“There was no criminal intent, if one doesn’t follow guidelines it doesn’t mean that an illegality was committed,” said the politician’s lawyer, Kapil Sibal, who was also Telecom Minister in Dr Singh’s government.
Late last year, the Supreme Court declared that nearly 300 coal licenses issued by consecutive governments since 1993 were illegally handed out. 32 of the coal blocks were then auctioned by the Modi government over the last few weeks.
The case known as “Coalgate” came to light in 2012 after the national auditor said 1.86 lakh crores had been lost because coal blocks had been distributed without a transparent bidding process.
CBI had asked the former PM details of the two letters that KM Birla had written to him between May 7 and – June 17, 2013. He was also questioned over why the Prime Minister’s Office had sent repeated reminders to Coal Ministry for Hindalco’s allocation.