July,7,2015: The apex court sought the responses of the CBI and ED for a probe into the Aditya Birla Group’s alleged hawala transactions.
The Supreme Court on Monday sought the responses of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate for a probe into the Aditya Birla Group’s alleged hawala transactions which cropped up during the probe of the coal scam and permission granted for alleged diversion of coal from the block allotted to Reliance ADAG’s Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Madhya Pradesh.
What’s the coal scam about?
A special bench headed by Justice M B Lokur which is monitoring the probe in the coal block allocation scam issued notice to the probe agencies and sought their responses within four weeks on an application filed by the NGO, Common Cause.
The NGO has cited media reports which claimed that the search operations conducted on October 15, 2013 by CBI at Aditya Birla Group’s Corporate Office in the capital allegedly led to the recovery of a huge stash of unaccounted cash worth Rs 25 crore besides a diary and other incriminating documents.
“As per newspaper reports, the documents seized by the CBI in its search operation in Mumbai allegedly reveal massive bribery of politicians and officials of various ministries by the Aditya Birla group over several years,” said the application, which came for hearing before the Bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri.
The Group has repeatedly denied any wrong doing.
The NGO has also raised the issue of alleged diversion of coal by ADAG’s Reliance Power for commercial exploitation.
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The coal block, meant for company’s Sasan UMPP, was used for other purposes and even CAG has said that this diversion has caused a Rs 29,000 crore loss to the state exchequer, NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan claimed.
“It is on record that Reliance ADAG officials had repeatedly visited the residence of the former CBI Director, Ranjit Sinha. Under the circumstance, this Court may direct the CBI and the ED to thoroughly investigate the post—bidding concession granted to Reliance ADAG for diversion of coal from Sasan UMPP as brought out in the CAG report,” the application said.
Bhushan said the question arises as to why the CBI has not registered an FIR in the matter when the apex court dealing with the controversial tape involving former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and others including business barons and politicians had also directed the agency to investigate the allotment of coal block for the Sasan UMPP.
“The CAG report coupled with the Radia tapes makes out a clear case of thorough investigation. What did the CBI inquire and on what basis? There is no FIR,” he submitted.
Referring to the investigation in relation to coal block allocations of Talabira II and Talabira III blocks to Hindalco Industries Ltd, an Aditya Birla group company, he submitted that the CBI conducted simultaneous search operations in four cities — New Delhi, Mumbai, Secunderabad (AP) and Bhubaneshwar (Odisha) on October 15, 2013.
The advocate claimed that the documents seized by the CBI in its search operation in Mumbai allegedly pointed to massive bribery of politicians and officials of various ministries by the Aditya Birla group over several years.
He said the Income Tax Authorities had filed an application in the instant case seeking a direction to the CBI to share the documents seized by the CBI with them.
The CBI had handed over some of these documents in sealed cover to this Court, he said and added that the tax authorities have carried out their inquiry and prepared a report which he claimed to have accessed.
Bhushan also placed before the bench in a sealed cover some documents he claimed to have received from whistle blowers in this regard.