Coal Scam: Ex-CBI cheif Ranjit Sinha tried to influence probe, SC
An anonymous whistleblower had leaked the logbook to advocate Prashant Bhushan
Former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha has been indicted by a Supreme Court-appointed panel. The apex court panel, appointed to inquire into the allegations against Sinha into scuttling of the coal block allocation scam probe held that prima facie there was an attempt to influence the investigation.
The Supreme Court-appointed committee on Tuesday said that the visitors entry register at the official residence of then CBI chief Ranjit Sinha was genuine and it appears that his meeting with coal block allocation scam accused influenced outcome of the investigation in some cases.
Reserving their order on further steps to be taken on the report by the CBI's former Special Director M.L. Sharma, a bench of Justice Madan B.Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri said that report says that "prima facie there is something" and indicated that the copy of the report may be given to all the parties for their comments.
The apex court had asked Sharma to inquire if the meetings that Sinha had with the accused in coal block allocation scam cases in any way impacted the investigations or their final outcome and on September 14, 2015, had given its nod to the team headed by Sharma to undertake the inquiry.
An anonymous whistleblower had leaked the logbook to advocate Prashant Bhushan.
At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that "Report does make some derogatory remarks about former CBI Chief (Sinha). Report says that (visitor entry) register was genuine. Some people met 50 times, some 60 times."
Telling the court that Sharma wanted access to the preliminary enquires carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in coal scam cases, Rohatgi said that it were not shared with him as court by its earlier order had said that closure port in any case would be submitted to the Central Vigilance Commission for a relook.
"Some amount of influence may be there as some of the accused met him," Rohatgi told the court "But for me there is no way to test the report. I have no way to tell what is right or what is wrong. Unless it goes through the process of court, we can't decide."
Suggesting to the bench that the Sharma report may be sent to CVC, he said that it can't go to CBI as the agency is the same.
But the bench observed that the "other way is to give the copy of the report to all, invite objections and decide prima facie about its genuineness".
Making it clear that he was not "shielding anyone", Attorney General said: "Let Sinha too have the report".
However, counsel for petitioner, NGO Common Cause Prashant Bhushan, urged the court to direct the registration of the FIR and set up a SIT to investigate the matter. He did not favour asking the CBI to investigate the matter as it would relate to the matters investigated by it.
Saying that the meetings that Sinha had with the coal block allocation scam accused "appears to have influenced the outcome of the cases", Bhushan said that it was a "clear-cut matter of registration of FIR and investigation (by SIT) and also (a matter of) contempt of court.
Appearing for the CBI, senior counsel Amarendra Sharan said that there was no one case where in the hierarchy of six officers starting with investigating officer, five have said that case should be registered and Sinha had vetoed them. He said that there were always mixed opinions and he agreed with one, disagreeing with the other.
Senior counsel Vikas Singh appearing for Sinha said: "Is there a finding that even in one case he upturned or subverted the process."