The Supreme Court on Monday directed advocate Prashant Bhushan to disclose the identity of the “whistleblower” who gave him CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s visitors’ logbook and other pertinent CBI documents.
“We want to know about the authenticity of the whistleblower. It has serious consequences on the reputation of persons and also on the (2G) trial court. Give us the source of information. How all this information got leaked out is important. We have to satisfy ourselves first,” a bench of Justices H L Dattu and S A Bobde told Bhushan, who was arguing for NGO CPIL.
Turning down an argument that the identity of the source was not relevant, the bench held that informing the court about the whistleblower was imperative in view of the Supreme Court Rules, which obligate every person filing an affidavit to disclose the source of information.
The court asked Bhushan to submit in a sealed cover the identity of the whisteblower. “We will proceed if we are satisfied that this man has access to the register with names and details of people visiting the director. Once we realise there is some hanky panky, and some investigation is needed, we will certainly go for it but we’ve got to first believe these entries. The director has filed a lengthy affidavit and called these averments as wholly untrue,” it said.
Asking the court to protect Sinha’s dignity, his counsel Vikas Singh disputed the authenticity of the logbook, saying 90 per cent of the entries were “fudged” and the register did not have any signatures of the visitors.
Bhushan had handed over the original visitors’ logbook, which purportedly showed frequent visits by some of the accused in the 2G and coal block cases among others. He had claimed that two unidentified persons visited his house and gave him the document. The CPIL, a petitioner in the 2G case, had filed an affidavit in the court seeking Sinha’s removal for allegedly compromising investigations into the 2G and coal block cases.
Singh disputed Bhushan’s claims, citing a news report in the DNA. Singh said the report stated that Bhushan would hand over the logbook, along with a list of personnel deployed at Sinha’s residence, to the SC even before he showed up in court. Bhushan handed over the logbook later that day.
Stating that DNA is owned by Subhash Chandra of Zee Group, Singh alleged that the litigation against Sinha was apparently controlled by the company and the 2G accused were likely to benefit. When questioned, Bhushan said DNA could be asked how they wrote about his proposed move, adding that he could “stake his life” on the authenticity of the list of visitors. Invoking the principles of protecting a whistleblower’s identity to safeguard him, Bhushan said a special investigation team could be set up to check the veracity of the logbook.
Bhushan sought a week’s time to consult the governing body of the NGO and also the whistleblower before taking a call on the disclosure. The court fixed the matter for next Monday.