SC asks CBI to maintain status quo in coal caseshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/sc-asks-cbi-to-maintain-status-quo-in-coal-cases/

SC asks CBI to maintain status quo in coal cases

Agency told to wait for some time but director Sinha can continue taking part in probe.

The Supreme Court Friday restrained the CBI from filing any chargesheet or closure report in the coal block allocation cases in the wake of the controversy over the visitors’ logbook at its director Ranjit Sinha’s residence. The logbook purportedly shows frequent visits by the accused in coal scam and 2G scam cases.

“Don’t take any precipitated action. Wait for some time. The matter should remain with you for the time being since we are looking into everything now. Maintain status quo,” said the bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha while noting that the CBI director had a direct role in preparation of the final report in the coal allocation cases.

The bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, observed that the investigation was being monitored by the court and, hence, it wanted to address the issues linked to Sinha’s logbook first. It, however, refused to prohibit the CBI chief from participating in the investigation.

Sinha has been at the centre of a controversy over the list of visitors to his Delhi residence. The NGO CPIL has sought his removal from the 2G probe, while NGO Common Cause has asked for the same order in the coal allocation cases. Prashant Bhushan is counsel for both NGOs.

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Bhushan has filed an application seeking to establish a link between alleged hawala dealer Moin Qureshi and Sinha. He told the bench Friday that Qureshi acted as a middleman between Sinha and accused in the coal scam, and that a probe report by the Income Tax department would prove that.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, however, told the bench that the report would take four more weeks to be prepared.

As Bhushan pressed for an order to direct Sinha to stay away from the coal scam probe, the bench asked Rohatgi to clarify the Centre’s stand on the controversy, and posted the matter for October 17.

The bench also accepted Rohatgi’s opinion that once the 2G bench is already seized of various issues relating to the authenticity and admissibility of the visitors’ logbook, this bench should refrain from passing any order for the time being.

Meanwhile, the CBI counsel, senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, and the director’s counsel, senior advocate Vikas Singh, argued that this bench should not entertain the applications at all since the only alleged evidence — the visitors’ logbook — was already under contention before the 2G bench.

Sharan said that the logbook was “unauthenticated, unverified and forged”. He added that Qureshi was an neither an accused in the coal block cases, nor in the 2G case.

Sharan and Singh also asked if Bhushan was willing to face perjury proceedings if the IT report failed to show anything against Sinha.