M A I N   N E W S

CBI says it shared coal report with PMO, Law Minister; govt on defensive
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correpondent

New Delhi, April 26
In a major embarrassment to the Centre, CBI director Ranjit Sinha today told the Supreme Court that he had “shared” the agency’s March 8, 2013 probe report in the coal scam case with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Coal Ministry “as desired by them” before giving it to the court.

Soon after this disclosure, the BJP and Left parties demanded the resignation of the Law Minister. Though this revelation put the government on the defensive, but it rejected the Opposition’s demand.

The CBI director, however, said he had filed a fresh status report today without showing it to any minister or government official and assured the SC that he also would not share the subsequent reports “with any political executive.”

Sinha’s revelation on sharing the report with Ashwani Kumar and senior officials has belied the stand taken by its counsel in the SC on March 12 that the status report had not been shared with any political masters.

After the CBI had made the clarification, a Bench headed by Justice RM Lodha passed an order asking the CBI director to file an affidavit stating that the March 8 report “was vetted by him and nothing contained therein has been shared with the political executive. He must also state in the affidavit that the same procedure will be followed in respect of subsequent status reports that may be filed before this court.”

Today’s affidavit filed in response to the SC order is, however, silent on whether the law minister or the officials of the PMO and the coal ministry had vetted the status report.

“I confirm that the status report placed before this Hon’ble Court dated 8th March 2013 was vetted by me. I further confirm that the status report being filed before this Hon’ble court on 26th April 2013 is personally vetted by me and that I shall continue to personally vet each status report which may be filed in this matter before this Hon’ble Court,” Sinha said.

He further stated: “In respect of the query raised by this Hon’ble 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 Hon’ble Union Minister for Law and Justice as desired by him prior to its submission before this Hon’ble Court. Besides the political executive, it was also shared with one Joint Secretary level officer each of Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them.”

The SC’s views on the development would be known only on April 30 when the case is listed for next hearing.

In the March 8 status report, the CBI had said that its investigations had shown that coal block allocations during 2006-09 appeared to be “arbitrary and flawed,” prompting the SC to remark that the allocations would be cancelled if this was true.

The coal block allocations had been made on the basis of misrepresented facts provided by the companies and without verifying the applicants’ credentials, it had said.





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