The coal scam resurfaced today following reports in the Indian Express of alleged government interference in the CBI investigations with the BJP demanding an SIT probe into it.
As reported in the Indian Express ,the CBI is learnt to be inclined to inform the Supreme Court that the controversial probe status report it submitted last month had been vetted by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Prime Minister’s Office officials.
Reacting to the The Indian Express report,Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley accused the UPA government of being a “rogue government” that will not allow the CBI to function independently and demanded constitution of a Special Investigation Team.
He also charged the government with “interference in the administration of justice” by not allowing CBI to acquaint the apex court with the full truth in the case.
“The CBI cannot find out the truth and even if some honest officer in the CBI tries to find out the truth,the UPA is a rogue government which will not allow it to operate independently,” Jaitley said.
His Lok Sabha counterpart,Sushma Swaraj,criticised the government for “vetting” of the CBI report and said it is part of “an attempt to save Prime Minister Manmohan Singh”.
JD(U) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari also termed the reports as “very serious”,saying this is 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.”
Unfazed by the attack,the Congress rejected the charge of interference in the preparation of CBI report in the coal scam for the Supreme Court and ruled out resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar in this regard.
“There is no question of resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar. Supreme Court has already asked CBI to file an affidaviat in this regard. CBI will file its affidavit and truth will come out,” party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
Sources told The Indian Express that senior CBI officials,including director Ranjit Sinha,were summoned by Kumar days before the status report was filed. During the lengthy meeting,also attended by some officials of the law ministry,several amendments in the status report were suggested and some also incorporated by the CBI.
During the lengthy meeting Ashwani Kumar,also attended by some officials of the law ministry,several amendments in the status report were suggested and some also incorporated by the CBI.
“We resisted as much as we could,but yes,some toning down was done following the meeting,” a CBI officer present at the meeting in Shastri Bhavan said.
Sources also told The Indian Express that the CBI’s status report was similarly “vetted” by senior PMO officials. During that meeting,a team of CBI officers,which did not include Sinha,was present although it is not clear whether more changes were made in the report at this meeting.
The CBI’s stand in the report,submitted to the apex court on March 8,differs from that of the government. The report pointed out irregularities in coal blocks allotment made in 2006-09 during UPA-1,and said it was done without verifying the credentials of companies which allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves.
The government had refuted the CBI’s findings in the court on March 12,with Attorney General G E Vahanvati saying the CBI could not be the “final word” on it.
But in an unprecedented move,the Supreme Court had asked Sinha to clarify through an affidavit if the status report had been examined by the government as Vahanvati,when asked,told the court he had not gone through the report. (With PTI inputs)