New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up CBI, PMO and Coal Ministry officials for changing the "heart" of the coal scam probe report and directed the governments to come out with a law before July 10 to insulate the agency "external influence and intrusion".
Even as it came down heavily on these entities, the apex court also made a reference to the Union Law Minister Aswan Kumar`s role in vetting the probe report and asked, "does it not subvert the integrity of the investigation if changes are brought in status report on the suggestion of Law Minister and government officers."
However, this apart, there were no strong observations against Kumar, who is battling to retain his position in the Cabinet, with the opposition demanding that he resign for vetting the draft report of the CBI to the Supreme Court.
The Bench wanted to know whether the Law Minister can ask CBI to show details of probe or status report in a case involving people of other ministries and the PMO. During the three-hour long hearing, the bench was critical of the access given by the CBI to Shatrughna Singh and A K Bhalla, joint secretaries of PMO and the Coal Ministry respectively, to the draft probe reports.
"What business they (JS of PMO and Coal Ministry) have to go to CBI and look the draft status report. What business they have on earth to go to CBI to see draft status report?
"How can CBI permit them to peruse. Whether they took away draft report with them or not. Next day, these people came and suggested changes in para 1.21. PE 2 is the most crucial.
"These two gentlemen visit the CBI office and they were shown the draft reports on March 6. They go back and on March 7, come back and say changes have to be done in two paragraphs," the bench said adding "This is something which is very serious".
The bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said the agency should stand up to all kinds of "pulls and pressures" and not share its probe report.
"You (CBI) are not applying your mind in such an important and sensitive case. There are pulls and pressures from all quarters. You should have the capability to stand the pulls and pressures.
"Supreme Court has given you strength 15 years ago (Vineet Narain case). You should make yourself solid as the rock but you are like the sand. We want a very professional, very qualitative, very thorough investigation," the court said.
The bench, which accused the political executives and the officials of changing the heart of the probe reports, also said that as a result the "whole direction" of the investigation got changed.
"You could have said it earlier which is said now only. A different impression has come out. This is the position of the premier investigating agency in which we all take pride.
"The CBI should have stood up and denied the invasion, intrusion and incursion. It is a total act of indiscretion. The CBI director said in an unequivocal term that changes were made in para 19 and they were of significant natures.
"The entire direction of investigation has changed. Now the investigation has gone in a particular direction," it said.