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Relief to Manmohan Singh, others in coal scam case

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi:  In a relief to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Supreme Court today stayed the trial court order summoning him as accused in a case pertaining to grant of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 to Aditya Birla group company Hindalco.

The stay, which also applied to Hindalco Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, former Coal Secretary P C Parakh and three others, came after senior counsel Kapil Sibal questioned the legality of the summons to the former Prime Minister citing lack of sanction as required under the CrPC and contended that allocation of a coal block was an administrative act without any criminal intent.

“We issue notice on all six petitions. The trial court order shall remain stayed,” a bench of justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan said after hearing arguments by Sibal, who represented the former Prime Minister, and other lawyers in the case.

82-year-old Singh’s daughters, Upinder Singh and Daman Singh, were present in the court during the proceedings.

The bench also stayed the proceedings before the trial court and issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging constitutional validity of section 13 (1)(d)(iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The other three summoned as accused are Hindalco, Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya, its officials. All the six were summoned by Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar to appear before the court on April 8.

“I must confess that I have not been able to find out what is the illegal act done by the petitioner in the case,” Sibal said at the outset of the 35-minute proceedings.

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