While the Government is “clueless” about the missing Coalgate files, officials of CAG confirmed on Wednesday that they were in possession of photocopies of all the “crucial and critical files on coal block allocations.”
According to highly-placed sources in the CAG office, the files are with the Commercial audit and PSUs audit wings, which are looking into irregularities in coal block allocations. “We can’t say we have all the missing files, but our audit wings have taken photocopies of all crucial and critical files related to coal block allocation from the Coal Ministry and Coal Indian limited,” sources said.
Though the CAG audit is focused on allocations from 2004 onward, the auditor also has the files of the previous allocation, sources said, adding, “this was done to understand the entire process.” The CAG officials also pointed out that CIl being a nodal agency in allotment of coal blocks, also must have the copies of the files related to allocation.
According to rules, the office of the CAG will keep the photocopies of relevant files at least for five years, after the perusal of Public Accounts Committee. The CAG also may keep the files for a further period, in case of any court cases related to the subject. “If the CBI or any Government agency want the copies from us, they can access them through the proper channels. So far, no one has approached us,” said senior officials of the apex auditing organisation.
The CAG’s audit had found that the allotment made “in an arbitrary manner” helped private companies gain a huge profit of Rs 1.86 lakh crore. When the CAG report rocked Parliament, the UPA Government announced the CBI probe and extended the probe period from 1993. On Tuesday, CBI officials confirmed more than 257 files were missing. Of them 157 pertain to the period of 1993 and 2005, and the rest cover the period up to 2009.
CBI Director Ranjit Sinha had told the media that after waiting for a response from the Coal Ministry, they would approach the CAG for the copies of the files. “We wrote to the Coal Ministry in May seeking files related to the coal block allocation scam. We have not received any response from them yet,” said Sinha, adding that the agency would exercise other options to retrieve the files including approaching the CAG.
“We will apprise the Supreme Court about the fact that several files are missing. The missing files are definitely hampering our probe,” said Sinha. CBI officials said there was a process in Government to declare that files were missing The mystery of the missing files is expected to hit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as he was directly in charge of the Coal Ministry between 2004 and 2009 and the entire controversial allocation of coal blocks happened during the period. The next Supreme Court hearing on Coalgate is scheduled on September 10 and CBI is expected to file a fresh FIR on the missing files also.