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Supreme Court asks CVC about assistance in probe against ex-CBI chief Ranjit Sinha

CBI S COURT

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought to know from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) about the assistance it could provide in the probe against former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha who was accused of scuttling investigations in the coal block allocation scam.

“We want to know from the CVC, what assistance we can get from it in the probe,” a bench comprising Justices M B

Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri said while posting the matter for September 7

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that he will get back to the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and whether his office can do the inquiry or not and then inform the court.

He said it was because of the fact that the nature of probe against Sinha would be like a police inquiry.

Senior advocate Amarender Sharan, appearing for CBI, said instead of going into all this,

it would be appropriate to look into the 14 regular cases, which were dealt by Sinha to ascertain any wrong doing on his part.

However, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, Common Cause, which has accused Sinha of scuttling the probe,

submitted that it was a serious matter which cannot be investigated by either the CBI or the CVC and should be entrusted to people having experience in investigation like former apex court judge, Santosh Hegde or former Uttar Pradesh DGP Parkash Singh.

The apex court has chosen former CBI Special Director M L Sharma who has given his consent to assist the CVC in its probe against Sinha.

The Attorney General said Sharma’s remuneration and staff support has not yet been finalised.The former CBI officer has sought time to select the officers to assist him in the inquiry.

Sharma had on July 6 emerged as the first choice of the Supreme Court to assist the CVC after the anti-corruption watchdog said it did not have its own investigating arm.

The bench had on May 14 admonished Sinha for his “completely inappropriate” meetings with coal scam accused in the absence of investigating officers (IOs) and had said “further inquiry is necessary” to ascertain the fairness and impact of his conduct in the coal scam probe.

The bench, which is monitoring the probe, had sought the CVC’s assistance to determine the methodology for conducting such an inquiry on whether his meetings with the accused had any impact on the investigations, the subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI.

The Attorney General had submitted that since the CVC did not have its own investigating arm, the investigators from CBI and ED, who are not associated with coal cases, could be asked to assist the anti-corruption watchdog.

The NGO had sought investigation by SIT on the alleged scuttling of the probe into coal block allocation scam by Sinha.

The apex court in its judgement had said even if Sinha is right, there cannot at all be any justification for him to meet any accused person in a criminal case where investigation was underway without the investigating officer being present, whether in his office or as alleged by the NGO at his residence and that too, allegedly, several times including late at night.

The court, which had examined the documents including office notes and entry register of Sinha’s residence allegedly showing him meeting coal scam accused even at midnight, held that those did not fall in the category of Official Secrets Act and “disclosures made by the whistle blower were intended to be in public interest”.

The bench, which had noted that Sinha met several accused including Rajya Sabha MP and industrialist Vijay Darda, said it was not necessary to examine whether the probe into the case of the Dardas was in any manner influenced by him at any point of time.

“What is of importance is that as justice must not only be done, it must also appear to have been done. Similarly, investigations must not only be fair but must appear to have been conducted in a fair manner.

“The fact that Sinha met some of the accused persons without the IO or the investigating team being present disturbs us with regard to the fairness of the investigations.

“This is all the more so if we keep in mind the fact that in the 2G scam investigations, this Court had concluded in its order of November 20, 2014 that Sinha should not interfere in the investigation and prosecution of the case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation and to recuse himself from the cases.

That an SIT was not ordered in the 2G spectrum case is not relevant,” the bench had said.

PTI