The Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine the allegations of interference and scuttling of investigation into the coal block allocation scam by former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, who refuted the charges.
“We have to take a call. Either, we have to agree with you (CBI) or with him (NGO’s counsel making allegations),” a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said while posting it for hearing on February 16 when it will also hear the application filed by Sinha accusing the NGO and its counsel Prashant Bhushan of perjury.
The former CBI chief’s counsel Vikas Singh contended that judicial record spoke for itself that “false and malicious” allegations have been levelled against Sinha and it cannot be that “just because he is Prashant Bhushan he can get away with any lie”.
Bhushan said the entries in the visitors’ register of the former CBI Director made it clear that he was meeting the high-profile accused and those associated with coal block allocation like Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay and there was a need for court-monitored SIT investigation to ascertain “whether any consideration exchanged hands”.
“If there is so much of evidence on record that this gentleman (Sinha) at so many times had meetings with accused and tried to change the course of probe and maneouvre the situation for closing cases, then this court has to find out how this gentleman goes on meeting dozens of time and maneouvres the investigation,” Bhushan submitted while reading out his note in which he narrated the events emerging from the entry register of Sinha’s residence.
Senior advocate Amarender Sharan, appearing for the CBI, contended that several contents including one about him (Sharan) in Bhushan’s note were factually incorrect.
However, Bhushan said all these allegations could be examined by the apex court-appointed Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for conducting the prosecution of cases arising from the scam and the apex court can take a call on his report.
He said the same procedure was adopted by the apex court in the 2G spectrum allocation scam when Sinha was directed to keep himself away from the cases arising out of it.
Sharan said CBI had already filed its response in a sealed cover to the NGO’s plea on September 17.
Sinha’s counsel Vikas Singh said he would advance arguments to counter the charges and raking up of the issue of entry register by Bhushan.
The NGO submitted that since the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Delhi Police has not registered an FIR on its November 25, 2014 complaint, there was a need for court- monitored investigation for alleged abuse of authority by Sinha as the then director of CBI.
The NGO claimed that it came to light that Sinha, along with a few other senior officers of the level of Joint Director, repeatedly overruled the investigating officers (IOs) and forced them not to register FIRs/RCs in cases where PEs had been registered.
He (Sinha) even forced them to file closure reports in cases where FIRs had already been registered.
Bhushan submitted that the SPP in the coal scam cases, R S Cheema, has disagreed with the decisions of Sinha to file closure reports in several FIRs despite the fact that evidence of criminal culpability had been found against several companies, influential accused and public servants.
CBI opposed the allegations that the agency was forced by the apex court to submit its reports on progress of case to the CVC by citing an order that it volunteered to do that.
In the plea for perjury against the NGO and Bhushan, Sinha’s counsel said, “there is not a single case in which Sinha overruled the unanimous opinion of the officers working under him with regard to recommending closure in which they have recommended conversion to a regular case. Thus, the falsity of the statement made before this Court is evident from this count alone.”