SC fumes over missing coal-block files

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday fumed over the government's claim that a few files related to coal-block allocations from 1993-2009 were not "readily available" and asked if a police complaint had been filed.

"You are saying that files are not available, nor readily available, not traceable... have you filed the first information report, ultimately the truth has to come out," said the apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph.

"...Why is the case not registered (for missing files). Are they lost forever or... can be retrieved," asked the court.

The court gave two weeks' time to the government to give all files, documents and information sought by the CBI which is investigating allegations of lapses in the coal block allocations.

At the outset of the hearing, as Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that "there is some controversy regarding missing files", Justice Lodha mockingly said: "It is so mild a statement."

Vahanvati was once again on the receiving end when in response to a query by the court he said that certain files were not "readily available".

The court said the two-week period for giving the files to the probe agency will commence from the date it receives a "comprehensive and consolidated" list of the files, documents and information that are sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), besides what it already has.

The court gave the CBI five days to give the list to the government.

The court said that the week thereafter (after the two weeks' time to submit outstanding files, documents and information) the government will inform the CBI about the files, documents and the information that was not available or has gone missing and the probe agency will look into it.

Justice Lodha said: "The eligibility of the companies which had been allocated (coal blocks) is an issue and the criminality has to be investigated.

The court pointed to a letter of recommendation written by a ruling party parliamentarian to the prime minister's office which was forwarded to the coal ministry and is now suspected to be missing.

"A letter sent by the PMO to the ministry of coal is not traceable. How it is going to help the investigation. Because of such a support or lack of it the investigation can't go on," said Justice Lodha.

The court told the investigating agency to file its next status report by Oct 22.

The judges said that the CBI plea that in court monitored cases there was no requirement of the sanction of the government to investigate officers of the rank of joint secretary and above would be heard Sep 5.

Taking on "record and accepting" the statement by the three CBI officers, who are heading the investigating teams probing alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, the court said if it found that there was "laxity and lethargy" in the conduct of the probe and still something was left then it would consider request of extension of time beyond Dec 13.

The court said this when senior counsel Amarendra Saran sought six months' time to complete the probe by the three teams. Saran appeared for the CBI.

Earlier perusing a status report, Justice Lodha said that of the 169 companies being investigated for the allocation of 85 coal blocks between 2006-09, the investigating agency had complete probe only in respect of 37.

Pointing out that 132 companies have not been touched at all, Justice Lodha said: "At this rate it will take time before you complete the investigation into entire 169 companies", adding "how you intend to conclude them... You are in first gear, pick up the speed."

As a CBI officer told that court that they were simultaneously investigating remaining 132 companies also, Justice Lodha said: "You have not said it anywhere."

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Troubled Trott to take another break

Troubled Trott to take another break

Jonathan pulled out of England's tour to Australia Brisbane with a 'stress-related illness'. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »