The special CBI court hearing the coal block allocation case, Wednesday, summoned former prime minister Manmohan Singh as an accused and asked him to appear before it on April 8.
“Of course, I am upset but this is part of life,” he told reporters here when asked for his reaction on the court order.
Former coal secretary PC Parakh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and three others were also summoned as accused in the case relating to allocation of Talabira-II block to Hindalco when Manmohan Singh held the additional charge of coal portfolio.
Court summons them for offences of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Reacting to the court’s order, Manmohan Singh said, “I’m upset with the court’s summons but it is part of life,” adding, that he is open to legal scrutiny. The former PM said that he hasn’t seen the court order and that he will reply after consulting his lawyers.
“I hope in any fair trial, I will be able to establish my total innocence” he said adding that he has respects “the judicial process of our country”.
Clarifying his stand, Manmohan Singh said, “I have stated before the CBI my position, I have also as PM issued a statement justifying what we did”.
The court order came after the CBI filed its final report in the case. During the probe, the agency had questioned Singh about the developments which took place in the Ministry of Coal as well as the PMO after Birla had written two letters dated May 7, 2005 and June 17, 2005 to him requesting for allocation of Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco.
Importantly, the CBI had filed the statement of one of the witnesses, S Jayaraman, former Chairman and Managing Director of Neyveli Lignite Corporation, in a sealed cover.
The court summon comes as a huge embarrassment for Manmohan Singh and poses serious questions on the other decisions taken during his tenure as PM.
Reacting to the development, Congress leader Manish Tewari said that the indictment, if any, in connection with the allocation of coal blocks is of the process and not of the UPA government of any individual.
Speaking to a news channel, Tewari added that the Congress has nothing to hide and the legal process will vindicate it.
BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao said, “When the UPA was in power, every effort was made to stall investigations in to the coal scam…the special allocation to Hindalco in which former PM Manmohan Singh has been summoned shows the extent of subversion during the UPA rule.”