UPA rogue govt,says BJP,seeks SIT probe in coal blocks row

Express report: Govt putting pressure on CBI to save PM,says Sushma Swaraj.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:April 13, 2013 10:17 pm

Calling the UPA a “rogue” government which will not allow the CBI to function independently,the BJP on Saturday demanded a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.

The BJP was reacting to The Indian Express report on Saturday that Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and the Prime Minister’s Office had vetted the CBI’s status report on the coal blocks row submitted to the Supreme Court last month,and the agency is inclined to inform the apex court about it.

Meanwhile,Kumar today held a meeting with Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati at his Shastri Bhawan office to discuss the issue. While there was no official communication about the meeting,sources said the minister sought the AG’s advice on the matter.

There were indications that the government may not field its law officers,including the AG,to represent the CBI when the matter is heard later this month by the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R M Lodha. A senior advocate may be asked to settle the affidavit that the CBI director has to submit to the court. The court has asked the director to state in his affidavit that the CBI report submitted in a sealed cover on March 8 “was vetted by him and nothing contained therein has been shared with the political executive…’’

PTI quoted CBI director Ranjit Singh as saying today’s report was “speculative”. “We are yet to file an affidavit before the Supreme Court,” he said,while refusing to comment on his meeting with the Law Minister at which they reportedly discussed changes to the status report.

But Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the “CBI’s image of an independent agency is now completely demolished and dismantled. CBI cannot go to the root of the matter and find the truth,and even if some honest officer tries to find the truth,the UPA is a rogue government which will not allow it to act independently. Therefore the system will have to seriously consider whether an SIT must take over the administration and investigation of the coal scam.”

Terming it as a “very serious matter”,Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “This is the evidence of the government’s pressure on CBI to save the Prime Minister.”

JD(U) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari also termed the report as “very serious”,saying it amounted to contempt of court. “Supreme Court is asking CBI to submit its report and government is toning it down. This is for the first time to my knowledge that such a thing is happening,” he said.

The Congress,however,sought to dismiss the allegations. “There is no question of the Law Minister resigning. The Supreme Court has already asked CBI to file an affidavit in this regard. The CBI will file its affidavit and the truth will come out. The matter is being investigated under the supervision of the Supreme Court. The BJP should wait and not try to misguide the country and create obstacles in the way of investigations,” said Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi.

“Officers sometimes meet ministers,but it is not necessary that ministers put pressure on them. The BJP is in the habit of criticising the government unnecessarily. If the government orders a CBI inquiry,they demand a JPC. If the government constitutes a JPC,then they create problems for the JPC,” he added.

Jaitley said the fact that the interference was being done at the level of a minister and PMO officials raised serious questions. “The UPA is interested in diluting the guilt of culprits. What dilutions are to be made in the report was the agenda of this meeting,” he said.

“In a case related to autonomy and independence of CBI,the Supreme Court had categorically said,quoting from an English principle,that no minister of government can interfere and tell the CBI what to do and what not to do,and that is now completely violated,” said Jaitley. “The government owes an explanation… The original unaltered report of the CBI must be made public and also placed before the SC,” he added.

The Left parties said they would take up the issue in parliament. “It is a grave matter. If it is true,then it is something which is completely unacceptable. The CBI inquiry is being done under the supervision of the Supreme Court,hence such efforts are not permissible… We will definitely take up this matter (in parliament) and the government must answer the charge,” said senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.

“This is a very serious matter. This shows how the ruling party interferes in the work of the CBI. This is a classic case of interference in the functioning of the CBI which is supposed to work independently and impartially. This shows the government and the ruling party can misuse the CBI,an issue which is often raised in parliament,” said senior CPI leader D Raja.

“It shows the ruling party is trying to influence the CBI. That a cabinet minister and PMO officials are reported to be involved makes it more serious. The Prime Minister owes an explanation to the country and Parliament,” he added.

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