Shared coal status report with law minister,CBI chief tells SC

Ranjit Sinha confirms Express report,tells court PMO,Coal officials also saw draft

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: April 27, 2013 2:57:42 am

CBI director Ranjit Sinha admitted to the Supreme Court on Friday that the agency’s status report on the coal blocks allocation case had been shown to Law Minister Ashwani Kumar “as desired by him”.

The report was also shared with a senior official each from the Prime Minister’s Office and the coal ministry,the CBI director said.

The government has been in turmoil — facing demands for an explanation from the opposition which has stalled Parliament with continuous protests — ever since The Indian Express reported on April 13 that the CBI chief was likely to inform the top court that the status report he submitted to the court in a sealed cover last month had been vetted by Kumar and PMO officials.

CBI officials including Sinha had been summoned by Kumar,who had suggested several amendments in the status report,some of which the agency had incorporated,The Express had reported.

In his two-page affidavit,Sinha said: “In respect of the query raised by this court about sharing of the contents of the status report dated 8th March,2013 with the political executive,I submit that the draft of the same was shared with Union Minister for Law and Justice,as desired by him prior to its submission before this Court.”

“Besides the political executive,it was also shared with one Joint Secretary-level officer each of the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them.”

Additional Solicitor General H P Raval,counsel for CBI,had told a bench led by Justice R M Lodha in March that the report had not been shared with any “political persons”. The law officer’s statement had prompted the court to seek an affidavit from the CBI director endorsing the submission that he had vetted the reports himself,and that the details of the investigation were not being shared.

Sinha’s affidavit was,however,silent on whether any changes were made in the draft report after it was seen by the executive,and before it was filed to the court in a sealed cover.

Sinha on Friday said the Supreme Court was the best forum to take a view on the question of whether the CBI’s independence was being jeopardized. He declined to comment on whether any changes were made in the status report on the suggestion of the minister.

“We have already filed the affidavit in the Supreme Court,and now it is in the public domain. I don’t have to say anything more about that,” Sinha said on the sidelines of the investiture ceremony of sub-inspector cadets at the CBI academy in Ghaziabad.

“I will disclose everything before the apex court,and before telling them,I do not wish to share anything with the general public,” he said.

On meeting Minister of Personnel V Narayanasamy on the eve of filing the affidavit,Sinha said,“He is our minister. What is the harm in meeting him? There is no bar from meeting him. I keep on meeting him. This is routine work.” But he refused to comment on the purpose of his visit to Narayansamy on Thursday.

Along with the personal affidavit by Sinha,the CBI also filed its latest status report on the investigation into the coal blocks allotments case. Sinha said this report “has not been shared” with the political executive,and “in respect of further status reports of the investigations and enquiries required to be filed in this matter before this court,I undertake and assure this court that the same shall not be shared with any political executive.”

The CBI director’s affidavit and the new status report will come up for consideration before the Supreme Court on April 30. The court is hearing two public interest pleas demanding that the allotments be cancelled,and the alleged scam be probed by an independent body.

In its first report,the CBI had alleged irregularities in the allocation by the screening committee,triggering a face-off with the government. Attorney General G E Vahanvati had said in court that the CBI could not have the “final word” on the matter.

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