Coalgate: CBI director files affidavit in SC; admits law min's interference
New Delhi: Setting off a political bombshell, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha on Friday submitted before the Supreme Court that the agency's status report on coal allocation scam was "shared" with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar "as desired by him" and that senior officials of PMO and Coal ministry had also seen it.
Sinha's two-page affidavit filed on the direction of the apex court contradicts the claim made by CBI counsel on the last date of hearing that the coalgate scam report was not shared with any member of the government.
"I submit that the draft (status report)of the same was shared with Law Minister as desired by him prior to its submission before the Supreme Court....It was also shared with one joint secretary level officer each of Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them," the affidavit said.
The affidavit triggered a political storm with the Opposition saying the Law Minister's continuance in office has become untenable and demanded his resignation.
On his part, Kumar said, "Truth will prevail".
The CBI Director said whatever he has to say, it was before the apex court.
In his affidavit, Sinha assured the apex court that the agency will not share further status reports in this case with any member of the political executive.
He also said that the latest status report being filed today has not been shared with any political executive in "any manner whatsoever".
"I confirm that the present status report being filed in this court has not been shared with any political executive in any manner whatsoever.
"In respect of further status reports of the investigation and inquiry required to be filed in this matter before this court, I undertake and assure this court that the same shall not be shared with any political executive," the affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed in compliance with the Supreme Court's order which, in an unprecedented move on March 12, had directed the CBI director to assure the court that the status report in the coalgate scam is not being shared with the government. Sinha was directed him to file an affidavit in this regard.
The affidavit belies the claim made by Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval on behalf of CBI on March 12 that the probe report in the scam has not been shared with any member of the government and it is only shared with the apex court after being vetted by the CBI director.
Earlier, the CBI and the Centre had clashed over the coalgate scam with the agency telling the apex court that there have been "arbitrary allotments without scrutiny" in the coal blocks allocation during UPA-I tenure and the government vehemently refuting the findings saying that the "CBI is not the final word on this."
In the status report filed by CBI on March 8, the agency had said that the coal block allocation during 2006-09 was done without verifying the credentials of companies which allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves and no rationale was given by the Coal Ministry in giving coal blocks to them.
Indicating that the entire allocation might be cancelled if no legal procedure was followed, the apex court had directed the government to explain why a small group of companies have been "picked and chosen" for allocation of coal blocks out of the large number of companies that applied for it.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by various members of civil society including former CEC N Gopalaswami, ex-Navy chief L Ramdas and former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian and advocate M L Sharma seeking a SIT probe into the scam.
In the beginning when the Supreme Court had taken up the case for hearing, the CBI had expressed reservations in sharing the findings of probe in the scam but it had to file the status report in a sealed envelope on the direction of the apex court.
Hearing the case has been slated for April 30.