statesman news service
NEW DELHI, 12 JUNE: A day after the CBI booked Mr Naveen Jindal and former Union minister of state for coal, Mr Dasari Narayana Rao, in the coal allocation scam, the government finally allowed the agency to question the former coal secretary, Mr H C Gupta.
The government had earlier denied the CBI permission to question Mr Gupta, who is now a member of the Competition Commission of India, a government agency that reports to the ministry of corporate affairs.
Mr Gupta was the coal secretary and headed the screening committee which was assigned the job of allocating coal blocks. According to sources, the CBI is soon going to summon Mr Gupta and the Congress MP, Mr Jindal, to join the probe into irregularities of allocation of coal blocks.
The CBI is also going to seek permission to question a few more senior officers who had handled files relating to coal block allocations when they were in the Prime Minister’s office and the coal ministry.
According to sources, the CBI has shortlisted half a dozen officers of the PMO and coal ministry who would be asked to join the investigation.  While the CBI had initially received a negative response from the government, it took a stern stand and insisted upon questioning of senior officers involved in the coal block allocations. 
In a further embarrassment to the government, the CBI yesterday booked Mr Dasari Narayana Rao and Mr Jindal.
Sensing the mood of the agency, the government quietly permitted it to question Mr Gupta. The agency is also ‘hopeful’ that it would soon get more permission to grill officers involved in the coal block allocations.
The agency had started its investigation into the coal block allocation case after the adverse remarks in a CAG report that claimed a revenue loss of Rs 1.86 crore by not auctioning the coal blocks. The agency has so far registered 11 cases relating to irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.