New Delhi: Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd (JIPL) director RS Rungta, an accused in a coal block allocation scam case, today moved an application before a special court seeking to summon former prime minister Manmohan Singh as a witness in his defence in the case.

Besides Singh, who was also the then minister of coal, Rungta also sought summoning of former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao as a witness in his defence in the case.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTIFormer prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

In his plea, Rungta also sought summoning of various documents and said that these two witnesses would depose about their genuineness.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar, however, told Rungta’s counsel to first argue on the relevancy of summoning Singh and Rao as witnesses in the case.

“In the facts and circumstances of the case, I first deem it appropriate to hear the counsel for the accused on the relevancy of summoning these witnesses in his defence. Put up for arguments on the plea on December 8,” the judge said.

Regarding Singh, the accused said, “he will prove the record of the coal ministry and the decision taken by him about constitution of screening committee and its functions and powers and would also prove the corresponding record of the Ministry of Coal.”

“Further, the two witnesses (Singh and Rao) named above may also be directed to be summoned to depose about genuineness of the documents being produced from their respective office (as they were holding at the relevant point of time),” the plea said.

Besides RS Rungta, the other two accused — JIPL and its director RC Rungta — also submitted their list of witnesses whom they want to examine in their defence and the court has fixed the case for recording of defence evidence on 19 December.

The case pertain to the allotment of North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand to Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents.

The court had on 21 November concluded recording of statements of accused in the case.

JIPL and both the Rungtas were earlier put on trial by the court which had framed charges against them for securing allotment of North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents.

The court had framed charges against the three accused for alleged offences punishable under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a forged document as genuine) of the IPC.

All the accused had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged that it had found in the probe that JIPL had “grossly misrepresented” a number of aspects before Ministry of Steel (MoS) and Ministry of Coal (MoC) to inflate their claim, thereby inducing MoC officers and the screening committee to allocate the coal block to
them.

The accused, however, has claimed innocence before the court and denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI.

In his plea seeking summoning of Singh and Rao as defence witnesses, Rungta said these witnesses had participated in the investigation of related cases with CBI officials.

He has also sought summoning of documents from Ministry of Coal and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

These documents include the record from the PMO for the period 2003-2005 “supervising the constitution of screening committee for the purposes of coal allocation by Ministry of Coal, reflecting the powers and duties of the screening committee and the manners in which its minutes would be drawn, signed and circulated amongst concerned ministries/constituent members.”

He claimed that these documents would reflect that there was no cheating, forgery on the part of the accused and the firm.

Regarding documents which he has sought to be summoned, the accused said these would explain that “filing of agenda form, making presentations etc for any particular coal block had no bearing with respect to the recommendation or approval of recommendation of the screening committee.”

PTI

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Coal scam: JIPL director seeks summoning Manmohan Singh as defence witness