NEW DELHI, May 19: The Central Bureau of Investigation today admitted before the Delhi High Court that a case file relating to probe into the Panna-Mukta oil field deal with a joint venture company was "missing" and "most probably destroyed by the agency's then Mumbai-based SP".
Expressing concern over the delay in the investigation, a division bench comprising Justices Y K Sabharwal and C K Mahajan, while perusing the case diary, pointed out that even the CBI director in his appended remarks on the file in April last year had expressed his unhappiness over delay in completing the probe.
The court was not satisfied with the contention of the CBI counsel and officials present in the court that former SP, Y P Singh, had ordered his clerk to destroy the file before he left the agency.
As the agency counsel said that a Mumbai-based journalist had stated on affidavit that it was in his knowledge that Singh had given instruction for destruction of the file, the bench questioned the "sanctity" of such anaffidavit.
A senior CBI official associated with the investigation submitted that Singh had prepared a case file (Part-II) on the investigation and had recommended for registration of the first information report on the basis of same. However, no FIR was registered, he said.
Petitioners, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and lawyer B L Wadhera had sought a thorough probe into the deal signed by the government with Reliance-Enron consortium alleging that a vast oil field, valued at about Rs 20,000 crore at the current price, was given on 25 years lease for a partly sum of Rs 12 crore.
ONGC counsel B Sen admitted in the court today that ONGC was extracting oil at the rate of about 12,000 barrel per day which came to around 0.6 tonnes per annum when the field was handed over to the consortium in December 1994.
He said the per barrel price of the oil in 1994 was $15, which rose to $24.16 in October 1996 and came down to $13.43 per barrel this year.
"The oil field was handed over to theconsortium under the policy of privatisation as it needed to be developed further," Sen said adding that "there was pressure from the World Bank also."
He said the government had spent over Rs 675 crore on the development of the oilfield till it was handed over to the joint venture.
To a query by the court whether CBI has recorded the statements of some of the officials who negotiated the deal and later joined the consortium, the agency counsel said one of them was orally questioned, while address of another was not available.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.