A Supreme Court-appointed panel on Tuesday indicted former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation Ranjit Sinha, holding that prima facie, it appeared that he had interfered in an investigation into the coal block allocation scam, PTI reported.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the apex court that the committee, headed by former CBI special officer ML Sharma, had noted that Sinha had met with a few prominent accused in the scam. which indicated prima facie that an attempt had been made to influence the probe. The panel also held that the entries in the visitor’s diary of Sinha’s home, which are proof of the meetings, are genuine.
Sinha’s lawyer, however, denied the allegation, saying the entries were “dubious or fictitious” as the ex-CBI chief was not in Delhi during many of the days in question. “There is not a single case where I [Sinha] have taken a decision contrary to the investigating officers in closing coal cases,” Vikas Singh said on behalf of his client.
The apex court, which is overseeing the inquiry into the scandal, also rebuked the agency for its slow progress in the case and directed it to complete the investigation “expeditiously”. The bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and AK Sikri took all arguments into consideration and reserved its order for giving instructions.
Sinha’s alleged attempt to influence the investigation came to light in 2014 after senior lawyer Prashanth Bhushan, appearing for the NGO Common Cause, presented the visitor’s register before court. Common Cause has sought an inquiry by a special investigation team into Sinha’s alleged misdemeanour, as well as an FIR against him.
The scandal surfaced after the Comptroller and Auditor Generalfound discrepancies in government allocations of coalfields during Manmohan Singh’s term and a loss of some Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the national exchequer. Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Hindalco, Essar Power, Tata Steel and Tata Power were among the 25 companies named as beneficiaries in the CAG report. The CBI had filed a chargesheet in the case in April 2015.