Coal blocks case: CBI books Kumar Mangalam Birla, former official (Roundup)

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 15, 2013 15:10 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) The CBI Tuesday registered a case against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P.C. Parekh on charges of criminal conspiracy and misuse of official position over alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked Birla as a representative of Aditya Birla Group and his group company Hindalco, one of the biggest producers of primary aluminium in Asia, officials said.

The agency registered a first information report (FIR) and conducted searches in Mumbai, Delhi, Secunderabad and Bhubaneswar.

"The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against the then secretary, ministry of coal, representative of Mumbai-based Group of Companies, Odisha-based industry and unknown other people/officials U/s 120-B IPC and 13(2) r/w (read with) 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 in connection with allocation of Talabira-II and Talabira-III coal blocks in Odisha," a CBI release said.

The FIR alleged the "said people" were in criminal conspiracy with each other and with public servants.

"It is alleged in the FIR that during 2005, the said people in criminal conspiracy with one another and then public servants by abusing their positions (and) as such showed undue favour to Odisha-based industry in allocation of Talabira-II and Talabira-III coal blocks along with a public sector undertaking of Tamil Nadu," the release added.

Officials said Tuesday's FIR was the 14th case in the coal-blocks allocation controversy.

They said Birla and Parekh may be called for questioning depending on further investigations.

However, the conglomerate denied receiving any FIR and allegations of wrongdoing.

Hindalco Industries' scrip closed Tuesday with a gain of 1.45 percent at Rs.112.20 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, after falling 4.97 percent to Rs.105.10 in intra-day trade.

In June, the CBI registered a case against former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao and industrialist Naveen Jindal.

The Supreme Court Aug 29 asked the CBI to pick up speed in its investigations in the coal block controversy, saying its work was "in the first gear".

Perusing the status report, the court said of the 169 companies being investigated for the allocation of 85 coal blocks between 2006 and 2009, the investigating agency completed probe in only 37.

The court also fumed over the government's claim that a few files related to coal-block allocations from 1993 to 2009 were not "readily available" and asked if a police complaint was filed in this regard.

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