Supreme Court today received an initial report of the panel appointed by it to probe the alleged scuttling of probe into the coal block allocation scam by then CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, whose meetings with accused persons have been held as “completely inappropriate”.
A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur declined to make the report public but handed over a copy to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi for his perusal on condition of maintaining its confidentiality.
The copy of the report was given to the Attorney General as the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, wanted his assistance after the panel headed by former CBI Special Director M L Sharma sought apex court’s direction for supply of documents relating to preliminary enquiry into some of the matters in which the probe was closed.
The panel is still continuing with its inquiry into the allegations that Sinha’s meetings with accused and others had led to botching up of investigation in the Coalgate cases.
The bench said the after the submissions are made on the report by Rohatgi, it will see whether the copy of the report of the panel can be given to other parties or not.
“We have to first see the submissions. Then we will decide whether the report can be given to the parties or not,” the bench said.
Rohatgi opposed giving the report to other parties, saying “PEs (preliminary enquiry) registered by CBI were examined by CVC. There is no point that the report be given to other parties.”
He said if the report of the panel is not given to him also, then he will be unable to assisst the court.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, said once the probe is over, charge sheet or closure report has been filed, there is no reason why the report be not given to him.
“We have to see whether the report is to be disclosed or not, whether its finding is to be disclosed or not,” the bench said while posting the matter for further hearing on May 4.
It also allowed the CBI to have a forensic auditor from Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) after the probe agency submitted that it needed the assistance of an expert in investigating the forgery done on documents in the coal scam cases.
The bench also took on record the status report filed by
CBI and enforcement directorate on the coal scam cases and said it will consider them on May 4.
On December 7 last year, the apex court had ordered handing over of original visitors’ diary of the official residence of ex-CBI director to Sharma led panel.
The court had on May 14 last year, admonished Sinha for his “completely inappropriate” meetings with coal scam accused in the absence of investigating officers (IOs), saying that “further inquiry is necessary” to ascertain the fairness and impact of his conduct in the coalgate probe.
Ordering the probe, the bench had then said that there cannot at all be any justification for Sinha to meet any accused in a criminal case where “investigation is underway, without the investigating officer being present”.
It had sought the assistance of the CVC to determine the methodology for conducting an inquiry on whether his meetings with the accused had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI.
The bench then appointed a panel headed by Sharma who later sought the visitors’ diary for proceeding with the probe.
As the visitors’ diary was sealed by an order of a bench, hearing 2G cases, the three-judge bench, which hears the coal scam matters, said it would be appropriate that the CJI-headed bench decides whether the Sharma panel can be given the sealed diary or not. The CJI referred back the matter to the bench, which ordered handing over the diary to the panel.
Sharma had also asked the CVC to make available to him its comments on CBI probe into 254 coal blocks allocation.
( Source – PTI )