Coal Block Case: Court Asks Why Naveen Jindal’s Passport Not impound
NEW DELHI: On Thursday a special court hearing the coal block allocation case allegedly involving industrialist Naveen Jindal pulled up the CBI for not seizing the Congress leader’s passport during investigation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that out of the 10 accused, which were also charge sheeted in the case, the passports of only two — Suresh Singhal and Rajeev Jain — were seized during the probe.
The investigating officer told the court that notice was issued to Mr Jindal to submit his passport.
After seeking repeated extension of time, the Congress leader submitted a coloured photocopy of the passport with a request for not seizing his original passport, he added.
The CBI prosecutor told the court that it was decided in the CBI’s office that Mr Jindal’s passport will not be seized during the probe.
However, intimation may be sent to the concerned passport officer that investigation related to accuse Mr Jindal in the matter was pending.
On this, the court said: “From the aforesaid circumstances, it is clear that ordinarily the passport of all accused persons in all cases is seized by the CBI during investigation whenever a case stands registered against them and thereafter the passports are sent to the respective passport officers for action under Passports Act.”
“However, in the present case, for reasons best known to the CBI, a different policy was adopted.”
Judge Parashar pulled up the CBI for adopting a different policy in the case and directed the CBI “to ensure that a uniform policy is laid down to be followed in all cases in future so that precious time of this court is not wasted”.
“If the CBI follows a uniform policy duly supported by cogent and legally sustainable reasons, then certainly the precious time of the court will not be wasted in deciding such issues,” the judge said.
“In these circumstances, I deem it appropriate to direct the CBI director to ensure that a uniform policy be laid down to be followed in all such cases in future so that the precious time of the court is not wasted in dealing with such issues which primarily and prima facie arises out of arbitrary exercise of discretion by certain authorities.”
The court, which was scheduled to consider the charge sheet on Thursday, has now posted the matter for May 6 after taking certain clarifications from the probe agency.
The case relates to the allocation of Jharkhand’s Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal Steel and Gagan Sponge.
A charge sheet was filed on Wednesday against Jindal, former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, former union minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, former coal secretary HC Gupta and others in the coal block allocation case.
Five private companies — four based in Delhi and one in Hyderabad — have also been named in the charge sheet.
The companies are Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd, Jindal Reality Pvt Ltd, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd and Sowbhagya Media Ltd.
The CBI has formally charged them with criminal conspiracy, cheating and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The agency said the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation was recommended by the 35th screening committee.
“It was alleged that two steel and iron companies based in Delhi misrepresented facts to get coal blocks. Also, there was alleged investment in a Hyderabad-based firm from the group of companies based in Delhi,” said a CBI official. Mr Rao was the union minister of state for coal between 2006 and 2009 when the irregularities allegedly took place.