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Essar Group was in Touch With Former Finance Minister Over Coal Block Allocations, NGO Alleges in Court

The Essar Group was allegedly in touch with the then Finance Minister over the issue of Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted by the erstwhile UPA government for clearances on coal allocation issues, a non-governmental organisation has said in a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court.

The then Finance Minister showed his ‘annoyance’ that his request to appoint a person in the GoM had not yet been implemented, according to an e-mail cited in the additional affidavit filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

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CPIL claimed that Essar Group was not only “planting questions” in Parliament, but “was also getting MPs to write letters to the Prime Minister”.

Referring to the alleged inter-office e-mails of the group, the affidavit alleged that senior officials of the corporate house had met the then Finance Minister for an early date for the GoM.

Seeking a court-monitored probe by an SIT or the CBI into the alleged high level of nexus, CPIL said that it has come in possession of several other internal e-mails and documents of Essar Group.

It claimed that those e-mails prima facie show that one of the senior officials of the Ministry of Steel had “official dealing” with Essar Group, and that he used his official position to strongly push for Essar’s business interests within the government.

It alleged that the official was also informing Essar about the internal deliberations in the Steel Ministry.

“This shows how major corporate groups like Essar bestow favours on senior ministers for getting benefits in return, including on issues concerning natural resources like coal, which are pending before a high level group of Union Ministers,” it said.

The Supreme Court had earlier sought response from the Centre and others on the plea seeking a court-monitored probe into the Essar e-mail-leak case allegedly pointing to a “political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus”.

A spokesperson for Essar said, “We refer to the reports appeared in section of the media today. We will make our submissions in the matter to the Honourable Supreme Court at an appropriate time.”

“We have done no wrong. We reiterate and say that Essar is responsible corporate. We adhere to the highest standards of governance and ethics,” the spokesperson added.


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