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Coal scam: SC forms SIT to probe ex-CBI chief Ranjit Sinha for abuse of authority

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its order today on whether Ranjit Sinha, as CBI Director, tired to influence the investigations into the multi-crore coal bloc allocation scam.
India TV News Desk New Delhi January 23, 2017 15:46 IST
India TV News Desk

In a case that paves way for a first of its kind investigation by a CBI chief into one who headed it previously, the Supreme Court today constituted a special investigation team, to be headed by the CBI Director, to look into the prima facie allegations against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha of trying to influence the probe in the coal scam cases.

A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said the CBI Director can take assistance of two officers of his choice after duly intimating the apex court.

The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, said the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has prima facie indicted Sinha for allegedly scuttling the coal scam cases.

"Since there has been a change in guard in CBI, we will continue to repose our faith in CBI," the bench said, while making it clear that it has not expressed its opinion on the writ petition pending before it or the M L Sharma panel report.

The bench said Special Public Prosecutor for coal scam cases, senior advocate R S Cheema, would assist the CBI director and his team on legal issues relating to the matter.

It asked the CBI Director to inform the court on the next date of hearing about the composition of his team and the time needed to complete the probe.

"Prima facie a case is made out against him for allegedly conniving with certain accused in coal scam," said the Supreme Court bench.

The apex court had on July 12 last year reserved its order on the issue after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has held that Sinha's meetings with some high-profile accused in the scam, prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.

Rohtagi, who had only received an initial report of the panel for perusal on condition of confidentiality, had said he had gone through the report which has found that the visitors' diary at Sinha's residence was genuine.

However, he had said the correctness of entries in that diary can only be ascertained in the court through evidence.

The apex court-appointed panel was probing the alleged scuttling of probe into coal block allocation scam cases by Sinha, whose meetings with the accused persons were held as "completely inappropriate".

Earlier, the court had given the initial report of the Sharma committee to the Attorney General for his perusal, as the bench wanted his assistance after the panel had sought a direction for supply of documents relating to preliminary enquiry into some of the matters in which the probe was closed.

On December 7, 2015, the court had ordered handing over the original visitors' diary of the official residence of the former CBI director to the Sharma-led panel.