Published On: Tue, Dec 8th, 2015

Setback for former CBI director Ranjit Sinha, SC orders for handing over visitors’ diary to probe panel

New Delhi: Former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha suffered a setback when the Supreme Court ordered Monday for handing over of original visitors’ diary of his official residence to a court-appointed panel to probe whether his meetings with accused and others led to botching up of investigation in the Coalgate cases.

Former CBI director Ranjit Sinha, who is accused of meeting coal scam accused during his tenure.

Former CBI director Ranjit Sinha, who is accused of meeting coal scam accused during his tenure.

The visitors’ log book, which was lying in sealed cover with another bench hearing 2G cases, be given to the panel headed by former special director CBI M L Sharma who will have to share the contents with other probe team members only and file a report in the court within 12 weeks, a three-judge bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said.

The bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, further said that the stipulated 12 weeks time, granted to the court-appointed panel, would begin from the day it receives the documents.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the former CBI Director, reiterated his stand that the alleged meetings alone cannot “per se” be termed objectionable as the real test would be whether those meetings led to according of favours to any named accused or other persons.

The bench, meanwhile, did not pass any order on the plea seeking a direction to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) that the panel be given documents of those cases where the CVC did not favour prosecution.

“Let him (Sharma) make a request. We are not saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the moment. In any case, he cannot sit in judgement on the decisions of the CVC,” the court said. Initially, it was said that the panel will have access of all requisite documents, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, said.

“At the moment, he (Sharma) does not have the (visitors) register, the primary document,” the bench said. The court had on May 14 admonished Sinha for his “completely inappropriate” meetings with coal scam accused in the absence of investigating officers (IOs), saying that “further inquiry is necessary” to ascertain the fairness and impact of his conduct in the coalgate probe.

Ordering the probe, the bench had then said that there cannot at all be any justification for Sinha to meet any accused in a criminal case where “investigation is underway, without the investigating officer being present”.

It had sought the assistance of the CVC to determine the methodology for conducting an inquiry on whether his meetings with the accused had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI.

The bench then appointed a panel headed by Sharma who later sought the visitors’ diary for proceeding with the probe.

As the visitors’ diary was sealed by an order of a bench, hearing 2G cases, the three-judge bench, which hears the coal scam matters, said it would be appropriate that the CJI-headed bench decides whether the Sharma panel can be given the sealed diary or not.

However, the CJI referred back the matter to the present bench, which today ordered handing over the diary to the panel. Sharma was appointed by the apex court to probe whether the meetings of Ranjit Sinha with the accused in coal block allocation scam had impacted the probe or their final outcome.

It had on September 14 allowed Sharma to access whatever records he felt necessary for the purposes of inquiry. After court’s directions, Sharma had asked the CVC to make available to him its comments on the CBI’s probe in each of the 254 coal blocks allocation.

He had also urged the CVC to provide him the correspondence that might have been exchanged between it and the CBI on the subject. The reports sought by Sharma from the CVC includes some information which the anti-corruption watchdog had submitted to the apex court in a sealed cover after scrutinising the CBI probe into each of 254 coal blocks allocation.


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