In the present case, the Supreme Court, on 19th February 2020, requested Senior counsel R.S.Cheema to act as a special public prosecutor in the popularly known coal-gate scam and give time to CBI to produce status reports in this case. The article attempt to look at the chronology of the Coal-gate scam.
- The Coal Allocation Scam, Or ‘Coalgate’ as it is popularly referred to in the media, is a political scandal that engulfed the UPA government in 2012.
- In March 2012, a draft report of CAG accused the government of “inefficient” allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009 and estimated the windfall gains to allottees at Rs 10.7 lakh crore. The CAG also said some private players got more coal blocks than needed for their captive operations and several companies sold coal meant for internal use in the open market. Many firms were also found to be squatting on blocks for years on end.
- The allegations were made against the UPA-2 government. by taking into account, those allegations Central Vigilance Commission ordered CBI to look into allegations of two BJP MPs — Prakash Javadekar and Hansraj Ahir 
- A number of coal blocks, which were not in the production plan of Coal India Ltd and the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL), were identified and a list was prepared. A total of 216 blocks were allocated between 1993 and 2010, but some were taken away at different points in time. In the end, the number of allocated blocks stood at 194.
- A PIL moved in the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of all the 194 coal block allotments. The court, monitoring the CBI probe into the coal scam, asked the agency not to disclose probe details to the government.
- In April 2013, the Standing Committee on Coal and Steel in its report tabled in Parliament said that the allocation of coal blocks between 1993 and 2008 was done in an unauthorized manner. It also said that allotment of mines where production has not started should be canceled. CBI Director Ranjit Sinha submits affidavit saying that the investigation report was shared with law minister Ashwani Kumar.
- On June 11, 2013, CBI registers the first information report (FIR) against Naveen Jindal and Dasari Narayana Rao.
- October 16, 2013, CBI files an FIR against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC Parakh.
- July 2014, The Supreme Court sets up a special CBI court to try all coalfield allocation cases. August 2014, The CBI decides to close its case against Birla and Parakh.
- September 24, 2014, the Supreme Court quashes the allocation of 214 coal blocks. Thereafter, the Lok Sabha passed a bill paving way for fresh auction of the coal blocks de-allocated by the court, December 12, 2014
- December 17, 2014, a Special Court ordered the CBI to examine former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
- January 20, 2015, CBI records the statement of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. January 27, 2015, CBI files the progress report of its further investigation in a sealed cover before a special court in connection with a coal blocks allocation scam case allegedly involving former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and others. February 20, 2015, CBI wraps up the investigation.
- March 11, 2015, Special court summons former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kumar Mangalam Birla, and P.C. Parakh as accused. Manmohan Singh moves Supreme Court against summoning in coal scam case.
- April 1, 2015, Supreme Court stays trial court order summoning Manmohan Singh. Coal Secretary kept Manmohan in the dark, says court. The special bench will hear Manmohan’s plea, says the Supreme Court. Charges framed against former Coal Secretary H. C. Gupta, 5 others.
As many as 157 files, crucial evidence for the CBI probing the scam, have gone missing including those containing minutes of screening committee meetings, allocation records, etc. While the coal ministry says it has deposited a bulk of the files with the CBI, reports suggest 18-20 crucial files still remain untraceable. The CBI has instituted preliminary inquiries into the mysterious disappearance.
In December 2019, The Supreme Court on Monday expressed strong reservations against allowing certain probe officers to be relieved from the coal block allocation scam cases. Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde said the basic rule is that “when the investigation is on, the investigating officers cannot be changed”.
On 19th February 2020, The Supreme Court granted 4 weeks’ time to the CBI for filing a fresh status report in connection with the ‘Coal-gate’ scam Arguments were made on action against Naveen Jindal who is the biggest beneficiary of coal bock allocation.
Furthermore, The Supreme Court in the matter of Manohar Lal Sharma Versus Prime Minister Office & Ors. recorded that senior counsel R. S. Cheema, Special Public Prosecutor (for the ED) in the matter to conduct the prosecution of the money laundering cases under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 4 pertaining to the coal block allocation matters till 30.06.2020. The matter was listed in the first week of May 2020.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje