New Delhi: Former CBI Special Director M L Sharma has given his consent to assist the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in its probe against Ranjit Sinha, who during his tenure as the agency chief, was accused of scuttling probe in the coal block allocation scam, the Supreme Court was informed today.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur, monitoring the probe in coal blocks allocation scam, that Sharma has agreed to undertake the assignment. However, the former CBI officer has sought time to select the officers to assist him in the inquiry, Rohatgi said. The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, took on record the statement of the Attorney General and posted the matter for hearing on August 10.
Sharma on July 6 had emerged as the first choice of the Supreme Court to assist the CVC after the anti-corruption watchdog had said it did not have its own investigating arm. The bench on May 14 had admonished Sinha for his “completely inappropriate” meetings with coal scam accused in the absence of investigating officers (IOs) and had said “further inquiry is necessary” to ascertain the fairness and impact of his conduct on the coal scam probe.
The bench, which is monitoring the probe, had sought the CVC’s assistance to determine the methodology for conducting such an inquiry on whether his meetings with the accused had any impact on the investigations, the subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI.
Rohatgi had submitted that since the CVC did not have its own investigating arm, the investigators from CBI and ED, who are not associated with coal cases, could be asked to assist the anti-corruption watchdog.
The NGO Common Cause had sought investigation by SIT on the alleged scuttling of the probe into coal block allocation scam by Sinha.
The apex court in its judgement had said even if Sinha is right, there cannot at all be any justification for him to meet any accused person in a criminal case where investigation was underway without the investigating officer being present, whether in his office or as alleged by the NGO at his residence and that too, allegedly, several times including late at night.
The court, which had examined the documents including office notes and entry register of Sinha’s residence allegedly showing him meeting coal scam accused even at midnight, held that those did not fall in the category of Official Secrets Act and “disclosures made by the whistle blower were intended to be in public interest”.
The bench, which had noted that Sinha met several accused including Rajya Sabha MP and industrialist Vijay Darda, said it was not necessary to examine whether the probe into the case of the Dardas was in any manner influenced by him at any point of time.
“What is of importance is that as justice must not only be done, it must also appear to have been done. Similarly, investigations must not only be fair but must appear to have been conducted in a fair manner.
“The fact that Sinha met some of the accused persons without the IO or the investigating team being present disturbs us with regard to the fairness of the investigations.
“This is all the more so if we keep in mind the fact that in the 2G scam investigations, this Court had concluded in its order of November 20, 2014 that Sinha should not interfere in the investigation and prosecution of the case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation and to recuse himself from the case. That an SIT was not ordered in the 2G spectrum case is not relevant,” the bench had said.