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Ahead of SC hearing,ASG Rawal says Vahanvati tried to influence CBI coal probe

Rawal's outburst comes amid indications that the govt is unhappy with him.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published: April 30, 2013 3:33 am

In a major embarrassment to the government on the eve of the crucial Supreme Court hearing on its alleged bid to influence the CBI investigation of controversial coal blocks allotments,Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal Monday accused Attorney General G E Vahanvati of trying to influence the CBI probe while making him a “scapegoat” in the case.

Read Express Editorial: CBI-law minister controversy frames a sobering pattern

Rawal wrote a letter to Vahanvati and marked a copy to Law Minister Ashwani Kumar,who is at the centre of the controversy.

Full Coverage: Coal scam

Rawal’s outburst comes amid indications that the government is unhappy with him for telling the court in March that the CBI’s status report on the coal blocks allotments probe had not been shared with the political executive.

It also comes a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with Vahanvati to discuss the case. Rawal’s own role is also under the scanner as he was present at the March 5 meeting — along with Vahanvati,CBI director Ranjit Sinha and other officials — called by the law minister and changes were apparently made in the report.

Read Maneesh Chhibber’s column: Will Supreme Court use the opportunity to free it from government shackles?

Sources said the government has taken a dim view of the ASG writing a damning letter to the AG on the eve of such a crucial court hearing.

Vahanvati,when reached,refused to comment on the issue.

In his letter,Rawal has provided a detailed breakdown of the meeting last month where Kumar asked for changes to be made to the CBI report,presented to the Supreme Court days later. Rawal has also said he received an SMS from the Attorney General to come to the law minister’s office with the status report.

Days after the meeting,Rawal,who is representing the CBI in court,told the Supreme Court unequivocally that the report had not been vetted by anyone in the political executive.

In his affidavit on the coal blocks allotment probe filed in the Supreme Court Friday,CBI director Sinha admitted the status report was shared with the law minister as well as PMO and coal ministry officials.

The Indian Express had first reported on April 13 that the CBI was inclined to inform the Supreme Court that the controversial probe status report had been vetted by the law minister.

Tuesday’s hearing in the Supreme Court will be held before a changed bench consisting of Justices R M Lodha,Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph,with Joseph replacing Justice J Chelameswar who was on the previous bench with Lodha and Lokur.

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