4:50 pm - Sunday November 8, 2015

Supreme Court stays trial court order summoning former PM Manmohan Singh in coal scam case

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Manmohan-Singh

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a summons issued to former prime minister Manmohan Singh by a special court in connection with a coal scam case.

The apex court took up a petition challenging the summons in a hearing in which Singh also raised the issue of lack of sanction to prosecute him in the case. A Prime Minister has plenary powers and his administrative decisions can’t be termed illegal, Kapil Sibal said on behalf of the former PM.

The SC also issued a notice to the Centre on a separate plea challenging the constitutional validity of a provision of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Singh had on March 25 moved the apex court to contest the March 11, 2015 special court order summoning him as well as Kumarmangalam Birla and the then coal secretary PC Parakh.

The three were summoned for offences of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act by the court which rejected the closure report by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The trial court had issued the summons in connection with the allocation of 15% share in the combined Talabira II and III coal blocks to Kumarmangalam Birla’s Hindalco.

Singh’s petition described as “ridiculous” the logic behind the summons. It said an administrative decision could be “good or bad” but it was unheard of to introduce criminality into the decision by describing it post-facto as going against public interest.

The petition asked for the special judge’s order to be struck down on the grounds that it was bad in law as it failed to fix any specific act of criminality on Singh.

It further argued that Singh cannot be charged with favouritism because there was no coal policy in 2005 when the fields in question were allocated, and so the trial court’s proceedings should be stopped.

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