Missing coal files: PM says govt has nothing to hide

Manmohan Singh said that if some files were indeed missing, the government would carry out a thorough investigation and the guilty would be punished.

NEW DELHI: Speaking on the missing coal block allocation files in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government has nothing to hide and all efforts were being made to locate the missing files.

Manmohan Singh said it would be premature to conclude that official papers sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the irregularities in allocation of coal blocks were indeed missing.

NDTV quoted the Prime Minister saying: "The government is making all efforts to retrieve all papers requisitioned by the CBI. If the records are found missing then the government will carry out a thorough investigation and ensure that guilty are brought to book."

He told the Rajya Sabha that the vast majority of the papers had already been handed over to the CBI and that there was nothing "fishy" as a section of members feared.

"Let me assure this august house that the government has nothing to hide," he said, reading out a prepared statement.

The fact that more than one lakh pages had already been given to the CBI showed that the government's intention to facilitate the CBI investigation could not be called into question.

He said the government had provided all cooperation to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the CBI. "We will continue to do so."

The prime minister said that if some files were indeed missing, the government would carry out "a thorough investigation" and the guilty would be punished.

PM statement on missing coal allocation files

With regard to the so-called missing files or papers pertaining to the ongoing investigation into allocation of coal blocks, I would like to emphasize that the government is making all efforts to locate the papers requisitioned by the CBI and, at this stage, it would be premature to say that some papers are indeed missing. A vast majority of the papers sought by the CBI have already been handed over to them. However, disregarding the factual position, some members have gone ahead and drawn their own conclusions that there is something fishy and the government is hiding something.

Let me assure this august house that the government has nothing to hide. The fact that more than 150,000 pages of documentation have already been handed over to the CBI clearly shows that our intention to facilitate the process of investigation cannot be called into question. Right from the days the CAG began its exercise of performance audit, the government has always provided its fullest cooperation to the CAG and later to the CBI. We will continue to do so. If the records in question are indeed found missing, the government will carry out a thorough investigation and ensure that the guilty are brought to book.

The matter of allocation of coal blocks is sub-judice; the apex court of the country is looking into all aspects of these allocations. Moreover, the ongoing investigation by the CBI is being closely monitored by the apex court. In its order dated 29 August 2013, the court has directed that within five days the CBI shall provide a comprehensive list of documents and records which remain outstanding and, thereafter, within two weeks the government will hand over the available papers to the CBI.

The government shall follow these directions in letter and spirit and shall do its best to locate and hand over the requisite papers to the CBI within the timeframe stipulated by the apex court. If the government is unable to locate some of these papers within the stipulated time, then as directed by the court a report will be filed with the CBI for appropriate inquiry/investigation.

In such a situation, I urge the honorable members of this august body not to draw hasty conclusions and let the house continue with its normal business.

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