Supreme Court expresses displeasure at non-appointment of regular CBI director

The Supreme Court Friday asked the Centre why it has not appointed a regular CBI director and said it was “averse” to the appointment of an interim chief for the agency for a long period.

A bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha said the post of CBI director was sensitive and the government should have appointed a regular director by now.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that a high-powered committee, headed by the prime minister, will hold a meeting on Friday to select a new CBI director.

He also told the court that the Centre had taken the approval of the high-powered committee before appointing IPS officer M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI director.

Taking account of the attorney general’s submissions that the committee will hold a meeting on Friday, the apex court posted the matter for hearing on February 6.

The bench was hearing a petition of NGO Common Cause challenging the appointment of Rao as interim CBI Director.

During the hearing the bench said the process of appointing a CBI director should have been over by now as it was known that the earlier CBI chief was going to retire in January.

The court also told the attorney general that the new CBI director who would be appointed must “trace the movements of files” during the period when former CBI chief Alok Kumar Verma was reinstated to the post for two days.

The attorney general placed before the bench in a sealed cover the minutes of the meeting of the high-powered committee held earlier.

The last meeting of the committee took place on January 24 but it remained “inconclusive”.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner NGO, told the bench that the apex court must also look into the aspect of transparency in the process of appointing the CBI director.

“You want an immediate appointment. Let us stop there. Let the appointment be made first.If you have any grievance that the process is not followed and transparency was not there then you can challenge it later,” the bench told Bhushan.

The top court on Thursday had set up a fresh bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra to hear a petition challenging the Centre’s decision to appoint Rao as interim CBI director after Justice N V Ramana had recused himself from hearing it citing social reasons.

Justice Ramana had expressed his disinclination to hear the matter saying he belongs to Andhra Pradesh, from where Rao hails, and had attended the wedding of the IPS officer’s daughter who is married to an advocate known to him.

He became the third judge of the apex court to recuse himself from hearing the matter after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and the second senior-most judge in the top court Justice A K Sikri. Both had recused themselves earlier from adjudicating the case.

In its petition in the apex court, the NGO has sought specific mechanisms to ensure transparency in the process of appointing the CBI director.

It has alleged that Rao’s appointment was not made on the basis of the recommendations of the Selection Committee.

The plea has alleged that the October 23 last year order of the government appointing Rao as interim CBI director was quashed by the top court on January 8 but the Centre “acted in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner” to appoint him again in “complete contravention” of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

It has sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a regular CBI director forthwith.

The plea has also sought immediate direction to the government to ensure that “all records” of deliberations and rational criteria related to short-listing and selection of the CBI director be properly recorded and made available to citizens in consonance with the provisions of the RTI Act.

PM-headed panel likely to meet on Jan 24 to appoint new CBI Director

The high-powered Selection Committee is likely to meet on January 24 to appoint the new CBI Director, sources said here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads the committee, in which the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge are the other members.

The sources said the government had proposed the meeting on January 21 earlier while Kharge wanted the meeting on January 24 or 25.

After mutual consultations, the government has finalised January 24 as the date for the meeting to select the new CBI Director, a post which is lying vacant ever since the government removed Alok Verma and appointed him as Director General Fire Service.

IPS officer M Nageswara Rao was named the interim director of the CBI.

The Congress has been attacking the prime minister for not appointing a regular CBI Director.

Kharge had also written to the prime minister demanding early holding of the meeting of the high powered committee to appoint a regular CBI Director.

Court seeks whistleblower’s identity on CBI director

The Supreme Court Monday asked NGO CPIL to disclose to it the identity of the whistleblower who gave information on alleged interference by the CBI director in probing and prosecuting 2G cases and also provide details of the accused who visited his official residence.

An apex court bench hearing the case, while asking the NGO to disclose the identity of the person, said, “We want to know the authenticity of the person who has given the information”, and also ascertain the authenticity of the information provided.

The court said the affidavit filed by the NGO alleging interference by the CBI director and seeking probe by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) into its conduct was contrary to the Supreme Court rules that mandate the disclosure of the identity of who has been relied upon in the affidavit disclosing certain information.

The court said the identity of the whistleblower will be provided in a sealed cover which will be opened only by the judges.

The court has fixed Sep 22 as next date of hearing.

Guest list case: CBI director files affidavit in SC

CBI director Ranjit Sinha, who has come under scrutiny for allegedly entertaining accused in 2G and coal scams at his official residence here, Friday filed his affidavit responding to allegations levelled against him in a sealed envelope before the Supreme Court.

The affidavit has been filed in compliance of the order of the apex court which had on September 8 directed him to respond to the averments made against him, holding that they were ‘serious’ in nature.

The court had asked the CBI director to file the affidavit, saying, “Whatever you want to tell us, tell us in black and white.”

The matter will be taken up for further hearing on September 15.

During the last hearing, the bench had taken serious objection to Sinha’s reluctance to file an affidavit on merits of the allegations and had directed him to file his response on a plea for a direction to the Centre to take steps for his removal and for ordering an SIT probe against him for allegedly abusing his authority.

The bench had taken on record a register of entry list/ guest list at the CBI director’s residence which was handed over by advocate Prashant Bhushan in a sealed envelope.

Bhushan had submitted that some unknown persons had turned up at his residence and had given him the documents without revealing their identities.

He had pleaded before the court to take the documents on record in safe custody as these may be destroyed.

The bench had also taken on record a list of 23 ITBP officials and four CBI constables, who were manning the gate of the director’s residence at 2, Janpath here.

Bhushan, counsel for NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, has alleged that several accused and officials of accused companies in the 2G scam and other cases have been frequent visitors to Sinha’s residence.

He has also alleged that Sinha was trying to protect some accused and sought his removal from the post.

CBI Director must come out in black and white on allegations: SC

CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was on Monday directed by the Supreme Court to come out in “black and white” on averments made against him for allegedly entertaining scam-tainted visitors at his official residence here, saying that it is a “serious” issue.

Taking serious objection to Sinha’s reluctance not to file an affidavit on merits of the allegations, the apex court issued notice to him directing him to file response on plea to direct Centre to take steps for his removal and for ordering a SIT probe against him for allegedly abusing his authority.

“The averments are serious and the CBI director can’t say he won’t file an affidavit,” a bench headed by Justice H L Dattu said, observing that adverse inferences can be also drawn against him for not responding to the allegations.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Sinha, pleaded that he doesn’t want to file an affidavit as it would impact the trial in 2G scam case and also said that the court should not hear the issue as it is based on privileged communication within the agency and highly secret CBI file notings.

The bench, however, brushed aside the Director’s plea that it should not entertain the case till the NGO, which filed the application, reveals the source of information.

Refusing to give credence to Sinha’s objection, the bench said that even if there is some technical defects in the application, it can be ignored as the apex court has been monitoring the 2G case and wanted to ensure free and fair trial, which has come under cloud of suspicion after the alleged revelations.

“What prevents you to file an affidavit on merits?” the bench asked, adding, “Whatever you want to tell us, tell us in black and white.”

CBI status report shared with Law Minister: CBI Director to SC

Here in New Delhi an affidavit has been submitted by the CBI in Supreme Court stating that the coal scam status report prepared by the investigating agency was shared with the PMO and two concerned ministers before presenting it to the court on March 8.

CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s two-page affidavit filed on the direction of the apex court contradicts the claim made by CBI counsel on the last date of hearing that the coalgate scam report was not shared with any member of the government.

“I submit that the draft (status report)of the same was shared with law minister as desired by him prior to its submission before the Supreme Court….it was also shared with one joint secretary level officer each of Prime Minister’s office and ministry of coal as desired by them,” mentioned in the affidavit.

During an earlier hearing in the case, additional solicitor general Harin Raval had told the court that the March 8 probe report was not shared with the political executive.

The CBI affidavit says the report was shared with law minister Ashwani Kumar as per his request and the coal minister.

The affidavit further states that two joint secretaries had also seen the report.

A joint secretary level officer in the PMO had also desired to see the status report and his request was complied with, CBI director Ranjit Sinha says in the affidavit.

The CBI director also revealed that the status report was shared with a joint secretary in the coal ministry.

There has been a huge controversy after it was revealed that the govthad vetted the CBI status report.

The apex court had sought an affidavit from the CBI director on the issue.

BJP and other opposition parties have been demanding resignation of law minister Ashwini Kumar for allegedly interfering with the functioning of the CBI.

Irregularities in coal blocks allocation: CBI tells SC

Investigations in the coal block allocations have established irregularities by government authorities in allocation of the natural resources and around 300 companies are under its scanner, the CBI said to Supreme Court.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the agency told that it is taking up the probe against each and every company which has been allocated coal block since 1993 and “in particular during the period 2006 to 2008.”

“CBI learnt that during the period 1993 onwards there were irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks and awarding contracts for development of mines and formation of joint ventures by public sector undertakings under the Government dispensation category.

“The concerned authorities did not follow the rules and procedures for awarding the mines development contract for the coal blocks allocated under Government dispensation category by Ministry of Coal,” According to the affidavit.

The agency said that a special team comprising investigators specifically selected by the CBI Director has been formed and they are scrutinising 700 files running into approximately 1.60 lakh pages.

“The system adopted by the concerned authorities in formation of joint ventures was not transparent and that due diligence was not observed during the process.

“Some public servants had vested interests in the award of contract for the development of mines or joint ventures with private parties. It was also suspected that large number of private companies had unduly benefited in the process,” According to the agency.

BJP may revoke Ram Jethmalani’s suspension

According to the sources, “the suspension may be revoked of veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani from the BJP, for daring the party to act against him on the issue of appointment of CBI director.”

Indications to this effect were available after Jethmalani met senior leader L K Advani and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari this morning.

Jethmalani was also vocal on the resignation of Gadkari as BJP president in the wake of reported irregularities in the latter’s Purti Group.

BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain told, “At the meeting with Advani and Gadkari, Jethmalani reaffirmed his faith in the BJP’s ideology and wished that the party may come to power in the country.”

He also said the lawyer had also handed over a letter at the meeting to this effect.

According to BJP Leader Shahnawaz Hussain, “The matter will be considered by the BJP Parliamentary Board,” .

Later, Jethmalani said he had met Advani and Gadkari but refused to go into details.

Jethmalani said, “Ask the leaders… I am just a sevaadhari (servant),” was his response to questions on what transpired during the meeting.

Asked whether a decision would be taken on revoking his suspension, he said, “I hope it will happen. It should happen.”

Jethmalani was suspended from the BJP on November 26 for attacking the party stand which had taken a critical view of the appointment of Ranjit Sinha as the director of the CBI.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leaders of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley had asked him to keep the CBI director’s appointment in abeyance.

 

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