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After SC's Rebuke Over Lost Coal Scam Files, Ministry to Digitise Records by Sept End

Over missing files, the government, then led by the UPA, had incurred the wrath of the Court when the Ministry was asked in 2013 if it was "an attempt to destroy records" to impede the CBI investigation.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:September 13, 2017, 12:52 PM IST
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After SC's Rebuke Over Lost Coal Scam Files, Ministry to Digitise Records by Sept End
Picture for Representation. (File photo/Reuters)
New Delhi: The Coal Ministry is set to digitize all its records by the end of September after it was reprimanded by the Supreme Court for missing coal block allocation scam-related files.

Over missing files, the government, then led by the UPA, had incurred the wrath of the Court when the Ministry was asked in 2013 if it was "an attempt to destroy records" to impede the CBI investigation.

The top court had then pointed out that the missing files could be the crucial records for certain cases being probed, and that if the Ministry was unable to trace them, the CBI should register complaints into the issue.

On its directive, the CBI had in September 2013 lodged two preliminary inquiries into missing records, which comprised at least 18 files related to allocation of coal blocks.

The then leaders of opposition in both the houses of the Parliament -- Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj -- from the BJP, had alleged that the files were made to disappear pursuant to a conspiracy by the UPA to screen some offenders

Later, when the BJP came to power, the Coal Ministry was again questioned by a special bench of Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice AK Sikri about the missing files and their recreation through supporting documents.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which has been assigned the task of vetting investigation reports of the CBI, also commented in a report pertaining to missing files that the Coal Ministry required improving maintenance of files and record management system.

Acting on the observations made by the CVC and also repeated warnings by the Court, the Ministry of Coal recently informed the bench that the process of digitization had begun.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand submitted that the digitization work had started in June after floating of tender and it was expected to be completed within three months.

Anand said that the Ministry has taken it upon itself to complete the work in a time-bound manner to prevent recurrence of what happened in the past.

Expressing satisfaction, the bench then recorded the Law officer's statement: "Learned ASG, on behalf of Ministry of Coal, says that necessary steps have been taken and will be completed within a month."

Anand added that a report regarding digitization will be sent both to the CBI as well as to the CVC.

"A copy of the report be placed on the record of this Court as well. No further action is required to be taken on the observations of CVC," the bench then recorded in its order.
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