Separate Bench may hear Manmohan plea

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s appeal in the Supreme Court against the trial court summons to him in a coal scam case may now go to a different Bench for hearing. A Bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu today accepted Manmohan’s plea against posting his appeal for hearing on September 21 by the Bench handling coal scam cases.
The CJI Bench, which included Justice Arun Mishra, deleted the appeal from the September 21 list after Manmohan’s senior counsel Kapil Sibal contended that the case against his client had nothing to do with the coal block allocations scam and as such it should be de-linked.
Initially, the Bench was reluctant to accept the plea, observing that “you (Manmohan) are neither here nor there”. The CJI further remarked that “I had posted the case for the coal Bench. Now, you say these are not coal matters”. The Bench, nevertheless, dropped the case from the September 21 list as Sibal persisted with his plea.
On April 1, the SC stayed the trial against Manmohan and five others on their appeals challenging the trial court’s summons to them on March 11. The stay will continue as today’s proceedings have nothing to do with that relief.
Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, who also appeared for Manmohan, later said the appeal was not ready for regular hearing by the SC as both the CBI and the Centre were yet to reply to the court’s notice, asking them to respond to the former PM’s plea against putting him on trial.
On March 11, Special Judge Bharat Parashar had named Manmohan as an accused in a coal block allocation case and asked him to appear before it on April 8. The judge had held that there was prima facie evidence to suggest that Manmohan was part of the alleged criminal conspiracy and corrupt practice in the joint allocation of Talabira coal blocks (II and III) in Orissa to Hindalco, an Aditya Birla group company, in 2005. At that time, Manmohan was the PM as well as the Coal Minister. The SC stayed this order after Sibal pleaded that the trial court was wrong on several counts in arriving at the conclusion against the ex-PM.