Will Prime Minister Manmohan Singh go to jail in December? Will Manmohan Singh be the country’s first such Prime Minister who will have to go jail? These questions are sad, shameful and worrisome and therefore it is most essential to take them up today. The Supreme Court is unhappy with the Government’s inclination so far to convert truth into lies and lies into truth. In the history of independent India, the comments and statements being made by the Supreme Court against the CBI and the Government are not only shameful for the Government but also dangerous for democracy in the country. On one side is the country’s apex court adamant on getting at the truth and on the other side is the Prime Minister encircled by questions. It is important to understand the role of the Prime Minister in the Coal scam and what the consequences of this can be. Our newspaper was the first in the country to expose the Coal scam on 29 April, 2011, and now in connection with this case, we can see chances of Manmohan Singh going to jail. Read on and find out why…
Files connected with the Coal scam files have disappeared. Where have these files gone? Were these files eaten up by the earth or did some evil spirit take them away? When did these files disappear? From where did they disappear? What was in these files? Have the offices of the Government of India become a den of thieves? Or have these files been made to disappear to protect or save someone? It is worth keeping in mind that the Coal scam took place at the time when Manmohan Singh was also the Minister of Coal. On every disputed allocation of coal blocks, Manmohan Singh’s signatures are there. On one side there is the Government which is trying to hide the truth, the CBI which is trying to hamper investigation, and on the side is the court which is saying that the culprits will be punished at any cost.
In December the Coal scam investigation will be completed. In the same manner as the CBI filed an FIR in the 2G case and arrested A. Raja, in the same manner the Supreme Court can direct the CBI to file an FIR against Manmohan Singh. He can be arrested and later on he can be put on trial. The Prime Minister is at the centre of this scam, so in December will India have to face a shameful historic moment?
In the ongoing Coal scam investigation being monitored by the court, the Government is trying every possible means of stopping the inquiry. When the CBI seeks information from the Ministry of Coal or asks some questions, the Ministry of Coal does not oblige. More shameful than this is that the Government changed the report of the CBI. If the CBI wants to file a case against any officer or official, the Government says that the CBI must seek permission from the Government. It is the limit that out of 236 files connected with the Coal scam, 186 files are not available. According to the Government, in these documents there are 7 files and 173 applications which are still not available. Where are these documents to look into it an inter- Ministerial committee has been formed on behalf of the Government, but the Supreme Court does not have confidence in this Government committee. According to the Supreme Court, this is an external committee with which the court has no concern. The Supreme Court has given the Government time to find these files and if even then the missing files are not found, then a complaint will be filed with the CBI. The case will carry on legally and responsibility will be fixed. This matter is serious.
The Supreme Court has asked the Government whether the missing Coal scam files are an attempt to hamper the CBI and destroy the records? This comment and query by the Supreme Court can be dangerous for the Prime Minister. The meaning of this statement from the Supreme Court is clear: that the disappearance of the files is tantamount to erasing evidence. In India, it is a crime, legally, to destroy or erase evidence. The people responsible for this can be sentenced. They can be sent to jail. The matter is serious also because it is contempt of court. The Supreme Court is giving orders continuously. It has been directing that the files should be deposited in the court and the court is angry at the fact that some of the important files from the Ministry of Coal are not being made available. The files which are necessary for the investigation have either disappeared or are not available. As mentioned before, angry with this attitude of the Government, Justice Lodha went as far as to ask whether this was an attempt to destroy the records? The truth will come out in any case but the matter cannot continue like this. The files which are missing are perhaps the most important ones. If despite all that has been said the Government, the Government Ministers and the Prime Minister make a plea that the security of the files in not their responsibility, then they must specify whose responsibility it is.
What needs to be emphasised is that Manmohan Singh is at the centre of the Coal scam because the scam happened when Manmohan Singh was also the Minister of Coal. It was through him that coal blocks were allocated to companies which did not qualify for the allocation. Manmohan Singh’s signatures are there on the allocations made to these companies which did not qualify for allocation, because no allocations to any company could have been without his signatures. At the time the allocations were made, it was known to the people connected with them that something amiss was going on in the entire process. The Coal Secretary was writing continuously to the Prime Minister’s Office that the coal blocks should be auctioned. Why did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sideline the suggestion of the Coal Secretary? If the Prime Minister says that he was unaware of the Coal Secretary’s letter, who will believe it? 173 applications are missing. The question is, where were these applications assessed? At that time, who was investigating the authenticity of these applications and the qualifications of the companies that had applied? The reality is that in the coal block allocations the Prime Minister’s Office played a very active role. It is also surprising and quite amazing that the Government is bent on declaring documents connected with the Prime Minister’s Office as missing. If the Government cannot make the missing files available, the responsibility for the disappearance of those files is directly that of the Prime Minister. Not only because Manmohan Singh was also the Minister of Coal at that time, but also because it is the collective responsibility of the Prime Minister and the cabinet. And the Prime Minister cannot escape from this responsibility. Right now the court is not being too strict but if and when it does become strict, then a case can be slapped on those responsible for the security of the files for destruction of evidence. They could go to jail.
This is a possibility because the court has also asked the Government that if the files were missing, was any FIR filed on behalf of Government or not. The fact is that the Government told the whole world that the files had disappeared, but did not tell that an FIR had not been lodged with the police. Now, it is the Government alone which can tell the secret behind why an FIR was not lodged even after files connected with such an important case were found to be missing. These are matters for inquiry, but common sense says that an FIR was not lodged because these files did not disappear but were made to disappear or it is being said that they disappeared.
Perhaps the Supreme Court has the same suspicion, because when the three judges were going through the files list given by
the CBI, they were of the same opinion in warning the Government that you cannot sit on documents in this manner. The documents necessary for the CBI investigation will have to be made available. There is no argument for not giving those documents. If this cannot be done, then a case will have to be registered with the CBI. The court also warned the Government’s lawyer, Attorney General Vahanvati that this matter has to be pursued and cannot be left as it is. There must be an investigation on whether these files disappeared, or whether they were made to disappear and we should be told when you will be filing a complaint about this with the CBI.
Now the ball is in the Government’s court. If the Government provides these files the deeds of the Prime Minister’s Office’s will come to the forefront and if they are not made available, then there will be a case and a trial. Responsibility will be decided. The elections are close, therefore every hearing in the Supreme Court can be like skating on thin ice for the Congress party. The question is whether to save Manmohan Singh the Congress party will take a risk or whether to save him it will dissolve the current Lok Sabha or whether on some pretext it will change the Prime Minister?
An attempt was made to save the Prime Minister earlier too. On 26 April, 2013 the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court. The CBI stated in it that the Coal scam investigation status report was submitted to Government representatives on 8 March. These gentlemen were the then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, a Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office and a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Coal. The amazing thing is that earlier it was said on behalf of the Government and the CBI that the status report had not been shown to anyone. The Attorney General of the country had lied before the court that no one had seen the status report. It is an offense if any leader or officer lies in court, but if the highest judicial officer in the country lies in the Supreme Court, along with being an offense it is a ‘maha-paap’ (a big sin). But alas, the Prime Minister’s conscience kept sleeping and no action was taken against Vahanvati.
The lie of the Government was exposed. If the investigation report is shown to the very people against whom the investigation is being carried out, what does it mean? Who is the Government trying to protect? In this meeting, what was a Joint Secretary level person from the Prime Minister’s Office doing? With whose permission did he attend that meeting? If somebody says the Prime Minister had no information about this, it will be considered or treated as a joke. If the officer was not sent to the meeting under any plan, then why was no action taken against this officer?
It is amazing yet again that the CBI not only showed the status report to the Prime Minister’s favourite – the Law Minister of that time, officials from the Coal Ministry and the PMO, but also changed the report at their behest. This is a clear example of slyness capped with cleverness. If changing a CBI inquiry report is not a crime, then what is a crime? That the report was changed is not an allegation. On 29 April, 2013, the CBI admitted before the Supreme Court that 20 per cent changes had been made in the CBI’s original report. Why was it changed and if it was changed why was it not revealed and a lie told instead? Why did the Government say that the report had not been changed, only its grammar had been corrected. Surely it is clear that the Government has been lying all along in court in the Coal scam case.
Those who had some shame withdrew from the case and those who were left remained combative. The very next day, the person who was pleading the case on behalf of Government, Additional Solicitor General Harish Rawal, ashamed over the issue of misleading the court, resigned. When the matter of making changes in the report was highlighted, it created a furore. On behalf of the Government, several ‘made-up’ arguments were given, but due to pressure from the media and the Opposition, Manmohan Singh was compelled to dismiss Ashwani Kumar, the Law Minister. But the surprising thing is that a little later, an attempt was made to bring him back into the Government through the backdoor. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed Ashwani Kumar as the special envoy to Japan, with the status of a Cabinet Minister. Manmohan Singh’s closeness to Ashwani Kumar and the presence of an official from the Prime Minister’s Office in that meeting are indications about who an attempt is being made to protect and save by hampering the CBI investigation. The hearing of the Coal scam case is being carried out by a three member bench of Supreme Court judges. The eyes of all three judges on this bench — Justice R. M. Lodha, Justice M.B.Lokur, and Justice Kurian Joseph must surely be on these activities.
This matter is not just one of illegal allocation of coal blocks from coal mines. According to Government rules, there are certain rules for allocation of coal blocks which have clearly been ignored. For allocation of coal blocks there are some Government conditions which cannot be ignored at any cost. It is one such condition that if coal mining is to be done under the surface then the coal mining process must be started within 36 months of the allocation ( and if such a mine is in a forest area the period is extended by 6 months). If the mine is of an open cast type the period is 48 months (if such a mine is in a forest area, the period is extended by 6 months). If work is not started in the specified period the mine owner’s license is cancelled.
It is a matter of great surprise that in most of the mines coal was never mined. So the question is why, when there was a violation of rules, no action was taken by Manmohan Singh against these companies. Why were the licenses of the guilty companies not cancelled. Manmohan Singh will have to give the answers to these questions. It is worth remembering that we at Chauthi Duniya had been the first to expose the Coal scam and had averred that this scam was of Rs. 26 lakh crores. Even today we have enough proof to substantiate what we said at that time. We want to say once again that this scam is of Rs. 26 lakh crores, out of which the Manmohan Singh Government, in collusion with private companies indulged in a self serving distribution of Rs. 52 lakh crores.
The court gave the Government two weeks time to make available all the files missing. The CBI was to give to the Ministry of Coal a list of the missing files and the Government was to say within two weeks the whereabouts of those files. If the Ministry of Coal still says that some of the files are missing, then an FIR will be filed with the CBI. So far, only 37 companies have been investigated and no information has yet been ascertained about the credentials of remaining 132 companies though the Coal scam investigation has to be completed by December.
The way files are disappearing, replies are not being obtained from the Ministry of Coal and the speed at which the investigation is proceeding, it does not appear that the inquiry will be completed by December. Meanwhile a further six months time for investigation was sought from the court, but the court refused in very clear terms and has directed that the inquiry has to end by December. This means that the Court has made up its mind that the hearing of the Coal scam case should end by December. It must be remembered that the court has said that in this matter the truth will be brought out at any cost and the culprits will be punished.
For the people of India, the Supreme Court is the last hope for truth to prevail. The Supreme Court is not a political party which will make false allegations and which can be lulled by giving a political reply. The court finds out the truth – for it, milk is milk and water is water. The court gives a judgement and until it gives a judgement, it gives indications. In the Coal scam case, the indications which have been coming from the Supreme Court so far are dangerous. It should not happen perchance that a bad dream should come true for the people of the country and the Prime Minister of the country has to go to jail for some scam. If that happens, it will be the most shameful page in the history of independent India.