Law minister, PMO made changes in coal report, CBI tells SC
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In what may spell further trouble for Ashwini Kumar and make his position as the Union Law Minister untenable, the CBI submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday in which they have admitted that changes were made in the report on coal block allocations before it was shared with the judges.
The CBI in its nine page affidavit told the apex court that the Law Minister had indeed doctored the draft status report regarding coal scam and that paragraphs critical of the PMO had been removed by him.
"The tentative finding about non-existence of a system regarding allocation of specific weightage/ points was deleted at the instance of the officials of PMO and coal ministry.
"The other tentative findings about non-preparation of broadsheet or chart by the screening committee to the best of my recollection was deleted by the law minister," the affidavit said.
The affidavit also says, "These changes made by the law minister, PMO and coal ministry officials were accepted by the CBI as they pertained to its tentative findings."
It further says that "the deletion of a sentence about the scope of inquiry with respect to illegalities of allocation while the amendment to law was in process, was done by law minister."
Previously, after the matter was taken up by the SC when it came to light that the coal report had been vetted, the CBI had said that the draft was only shared with Law Minister and the Attorney General GE Vahanvati but no changes had been made.
CBI director Ranjit Kumar admitted that he met the Law Minister on March 06. "Former ASG Harin Raval and Attorney General were also present in the meeting with the law minister," the affidavit said.
Shatrughan Singh, JS PMO, AK Bhalla, JS Coal Ministry met in the chamber of Joint Director CBI at the request of JS PMO, CBI further told the court. The affidavit also says that PMO official Shatrughan Sinha had suggested minor changes in the report.
However, the CBI said that the draft status report was shared with political executive and AG, not the status report. “Consequent changes in the report have neither altered its central theme nor shifted the focus of inquiries in any manner,” it said. “No names of suspects or accused were removed from the status report and no suspect or accused was let off,” the CBI added.
The CBI also said that that it was difficult at this stage to attribute each change to a particular person with certainty.
Leaving former additional solicitor general Haren Raval to fend for himself, the affidavit said that he had no instructions from the CBI to tell the court that the draft status report was not shared with anybody except the court.
Raval's statement that the March 8 status report had not been shared with any one and was "meant only for the court" was not made on the instructions of the CBI, Sinha said.
The CBI director's affidavit contradicted Attorney General GE Vahanvati's repeated assertion that he had not seen the status report.
"On the same day in the afternoon on the receipt of a message from Raval, CBI Joint Director OP Galhotra and DIG Ravikant went to the residence of Vahanvati, where Raval too was present. Vahanvati glanced through the status report of PE 2 and PE 4," the affidavit said.
"He (Vahanvati) made certain observations which were explained to him. He also suggested certain minor changes in the status report of PE 2. The attorney general neither asked for nor was given a copy of the final status reports that were submitted before the (apex) Court," the affidavit read.
Sinha recalled the sequence of meetings and said no minutes were prepared after the meetings between its officers and the officials of the PMO, coal ministry and the law officers.
CBI director Ranjit Sinha also extended unconditional apology to the apex court for sharing the coal report with the executive. “I extend my unconditional apology for inadvertent omissions and commissions on my part.” He assured the court of independent probe in the coal scam.
Congress must go: BJP
Reacting to the developments today, the BJP said that the Congress had lost the moral right to rule. Talking to the media BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, “Every ministry has been plagued by scams. The PM should resign and we should go for elections.”
The BJP has stalled the Parliament for days now demanding that the Law Minister must resign over the matter.
“If they have even a little shame left in the Congress party then the Law Minsiter should resign immediately. And the Prime Minister should take responsibility of the whole matter,” another BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said.
Prashant Bhushan, petitioner in the case said that the CBI director’s affidavit clearly contradicted the statements made by the AG to the court. “Changes were made in the report at various levels. The AG lied in the court that he had not seen the report. This is a case of gross contempt of court,” he said.
The Supreme Court had come down heavily on the government last week after the CBI had given the court in writing that the investigation report on the coal scam had been shared with the Union Law Minsiter and the AG and also a bureaucrat of the PMO and the coal ministry before it was submitted to the court.
Without mincing words the SC had said that the investigating agency had let the court down and also that the time had come to “insulate the CBI from political interference.”