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CBI examines Kumar Mangalam Birla

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has examined Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of the Talabira-II coal block to his company, Hindalco, in 2005.

The questioning of Birla, named an accused in a First Information Report (FIR) on the matter, follows the trial court raising questions on the CBI’s closure report in the case.

Birla was said to have been examined over his meetings with former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who held the coal portfolio at that time, as well as with then coal secretary P C Parakh, another accused.

When Business Standard contacted the Birla group, a spokesperson said Birla was examined long ago, even before the case was closed.

R S Bhatti, CBI joint director (policy), in charge of media relations, did not respond to phone calls and SMSes by PTI.

The agency has also questioned Manmohan Singh’s principal secretary T K A Nair, and private secretary B V R Subramanyam in the case. Earlier, a special court had expressed dissatisfaction over the examination of Nair and directed the agency to record Singh’s statement.

Sources said Nair was questioned in the wake of a December 16 order in which the court had said it would be “appropriate” if the CBI re-examined him. They added Subramanyam had been questioned as the court had said some officials of the Prime Minister’s Office involved with the allocation to Hindalco were “either not examined or not properly examined” by the agency.

The sources said Singh was asked whether he was personally involved in the decision to allocate the coal block to Hindalco and whether he had personally seen a file in this regard.

The CBI is scheduled to file a progress report on its probe into the case on January 27. Earlier, judge Bharat Parashar had refused to accept the agency’s closure report, saying it would be “appropriate” that Manmohan Singh be “first examined” regarding various aspects of the matter.

CBI had lodged an FIR against Birla, Parakh, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons and officials under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, as well as provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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