The Supreme Court, on Friday, appointed Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar to preside over the Special Court set up for exclusively holding trial in cases of coal block allocation scam and named senior advocate R S Cheema as Special Public Prosecutor to conduct prosecution of the high and mighty allegedly involved in it.
The apex court directed competent authorities to come out with the notifications within two weeks on appointment of the Special Judge and Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) and ordered trial of the cases on a day-to-day basis with a direction that no other courts other than the apex court would entertain or intervene in the matters arising out of coalgate.
“We, accordingly direct competent authorities to issue requisite notifications appointing Bharat Parashar, officer of the Delhi Higher Judicial Service as Special Judge to exclusively try the cases pertaining to coal block allocation registered under the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act and other allied offences.
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“Notifications shall be issued within two weeks from date of communication of this order,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said.
“In continuation, we also order that R S Cheema, senior advocate, shall be appointed as the SPP by the Government to conduct prosecution of offences pertaining to coal block allocation on behalf of CBI and Enforcement Directorate,” the bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said in the order.
It said on such appointment, the Chandigarh-based noted criminal lawyer, will have access to all materials and documents relating to investigations for his opinion and assistance to the special court in view of the high magnitude and compass of the case and he will be free to have his own team of lawyers to assist him.
The bench said, “all cases (arising out of coal block allocation scam) pending before different courts shall be transferred to the court of the special judge”.
In Friday’s hearing, the apex court also allowed the CBI to approach the Chief Vigilance Commission relating to one report of two Vigilance Commissioners, which according to the agency, was creating some difficulty.
The bench said the CBI can go to the CVC with the documents pertaining to one case in which it has given the report on July 2. Meanwhile, the bench which was deliberating on the issue of SPP, said, “We need a good criminal lawyer who can spare time. That is why we are considering and exploring all names and the idea is to have the right person.”
In this background, Cheema emerged as the unanimous choice over other suggested names of advocates after the bench was informed that senior advocate and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium has not agreed to take over the job of SPP for conducting the prosecution in the matter.
While the bench was in favour of another senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, who recently conducted the prosecution in the December 16 gangrape-cum-murder case, advocate M L Sharma, one of the PIL petitioners in the coalgate, opposed his name saying that he was close to Aam Aadmi Party which had appointed him as standing counsel during its 49-day rule in Delhi.
Though, the bench was not in agreement with his reasoning over Krishnan, it said nonetheless it would like to have a person as SPP on whom there is unanimity.
While the bench was trying to find the suitable person, Solictor General Ranjit Kumar said Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was in favour of Krishnan and had even suggested the names of Mumbai-based noted criminal lawyer Satish Manshinde, who has been appointed as SPP to conduct the prosecution in the Italian marines case in the national capital.
During the hearing, Manshinde’s junior informed the bench that he was ready to take up the job and has already shifted to Delhi for the Italian marines case. However, the bench said he is a busy criminal lawyer in Mumbai and there are chances that some inconvenience may arise.
Others whose names came up for consideration were senior advocates K V Vishwanathan and Siddharth Luthra but they were ruled out because of conflict of interest and later Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh suggested the name of Cheema and after getting his consent and agreement from all the stakeholders, the bench passed its order.