The black and dirty coal scam of the UPA has again become the talking point as the relentless anti-corruption crusader, Dr. Subramanian Swamy has turned his attention to it.
Swamy alleged that this favoritism was shown to Tata Group because at that time then CBI Director Ranjit Sinha’s brother Anand Sinha was a high-ranking official in Tata Group led by Ratan Tata.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was known in its second edition as the government which lurched from scam to scam until it was ousted by the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In a writ petition dated 2012, the UPA 2 government was dragged to court for the improprieties in the allocation of coal blocks between 1993 and 2010. In a landmark judgment on 25th August 2014, the Supreme Court had finally declared that the allocation of all coal blocks between 1993 and 2010 was illegal and canceled then and there, the allocation of nearly 200 coal blocks. The case was being handled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The CBI under its former director Mr. Ranjit Sinha, in the meanwhile, had already filed its first chargesheet in the scam in March 2014 against Navbharat Power Limited owned by the Essar group. A few months after the Supreme Court verdict, the then CBI director retired and Sri. Alok Verma, the current director took over to continue the investigations into the case.
In April 2017 however, the CBI filed a First Information Report (FIR) against its former director Ranjit Sinha for trying to obstruct justice and influence investigation. The case was filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act for his role in trying to influence the investigation in the coal scam case.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) under the previous Manmohan Singh regime had filed that there was a loss of Rs. 1.86 Lakh crore ($28.5 billion) to the national exchequer and that there were about 25 companies who benefited from this national loss. Tata Steel was one of the beneficiary companies named by the CAG in its report.
In May 2017, the CBI, continuing the investigation, filed a charge sheet against Naveen Jindal for the allocation of a coal block in Madhya Pradesh.
In some fresh developments, Dr. Subramanian Swamy has now written to the CBI Director, urging him to proceed with prosecution against Tata Steel, who he claims is the only beneficiary from the CAG report against whom, a charge sheet has not been filed. In his later dated September 12, 2017, Dr. Swamy brings to the attention of the CBI Director, the following observation of the Supreme Court:
“…the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held the Coal Block Allotments as “invalid, unfair and arbitrary consisting of an illegal method which was adopted in novel way” which non-transparent allotment resulted in windfall gain made and thus the State was deprived of the full value of the nation’s resources.”
He then further goes on to remind the CBI, that in its capacity as the investigation agency entrusted with the task of unearthing this scam,
“…the CBI had vigorously continued the prosecution in the Special CBI Court of all allottees but with the sole exception of the Tata Steel Co. allottee. “
He says that this exclusion of the Tata Steel Co. allottee is “dubious and against public interest”.
Swamy alleged that this favoritism was shown to Tata Group because at that time then CBI Director Ranjit Sinha’s brother Anand Sinha was a high-ranking official in Tata Group led by Ratan Tata. In the CAG Report on Coal Scam which exposes the Rs.1.80 lakh crore loss to the exchequer clearly shows that three Tata Group companies including Tata Steel were the biggest beneficiaries in the scam.
However, Swamy has been quick to add that this exclusion was made during the tenure of the previous head of the CBI Sri. Ranjit Sinha and therefore, the present incumbent is perhaps not aware of the situation.
Dr. Swamy has urged the Director to take up prosecution of Tata Steel on par with all the other beneficiaries named and do so at the earliest.
CAG’s report has detailed many Tata Group companies involving Tata Steel and Tata-controlled Strategic Energy & Tech System as major beneficiaries in the Coal Scam. The CAG Report which exposed Rs.1.86 lakh crores ($28.5 billion) loss found that Rs.33,060 crores ($5 billion) loss was from the Coal blocks allotment to Tata-controlled Strategic Energy & Tech System and Rs. 7,161 crores loss ($1.1 billion) was from Coal blocks allotment to Tata Steel. However, though most of the companies indicted by CAG were charge-sheeted by CBI, Tata Group firms, the biggest beneficiaries in the Coal Scam, have not yet been probed by the CBI.
Subramanian Swamy’s letter to CBI Director is published below:
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 65.22 Rupees.
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