SC won’t modify order directing probe against ex-CBI director

New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday refused to modify its order asking the CBI Director to constitute a SIT to probe charges of “prima facie abuse of authority” by the agency’s former Director Ranjit Sinha in the coal block allocation scam.

The former CBI Director has been charged with meeting the accused at his official residence without the knowledge of investigating officers.

The bench comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri were unmoved as senior counsel Vikas Singh urged the court to substitute the word “investigation” with “inquiry” in its order.

Vikas Singh said that the court could say that the CBI Director could undertake investigation only if upon inquiry he finds material to order a probe.

Let “investigation be changed with inquiry and if CBI Director feels there is a case fit for investigation then the same can be done”, Vikas Singh urged the court.

The top court by its January 23, 2017, order had asked the CBI to “… conduct an investigation (as a special investigating team – SIT) into the abuse of authority prima facie committed by Sinha with a view to scuttle inquiries, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in the coal block allocation cases”.

The senior counsel referred to the recent judgment of the top court wherein it had declined to order a probe into alleged payoffs by the Birla-Sahara groups to Prime Minister Narenda Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister, holding that entries on loose sheets were irrelevant and could not be treated as evidence.

He sought the modification of the January 23, 2017, order equating entries in the visitors register with that of entries on loose sheets.

But the court allowed counsel Prashant Bhushan to file an application seeking the modification of the court order that said: “The Director, CBI, will also take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) into confidence in respect of the investigations.”

Bhushan appearing for NGO Common Cause sought the modification of the order, saying that present CVC K.V. Choudary had also met Sinha a number of times and his name is there in the visitors’ register that was maintained at the official residence of Sinha.

As the court allowed Bhushan to move an application, Vikas Singh said that he too would be filing an application seeking the modification of the order.

Meanwhile, the top court on Monday asked the probe agency to file chargesheets in all the cases in which it has completed investigation by February-end. It also told the investigating agency to complete the probes in the remaining cases expeditiously.

“We are giving time till end February to conclude the process,” the court said as it asked the CBI to expedite investigations in pending cases including the one in which a regular case was filed in December last year.

The court also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to inform the court about the status of the show-cause notice issued to the Coal Ministry, Power Ministry as well as some states by the CBI.

The Attorney General said that he would get back after checking them.