New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of India (CBI) to initiate probe against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha for allegedly influencing coal scam probes.
“A prima facie case can be made against him,” the court said while refraining to express any opinion on the veracity of the allegations. A bench headed by justice Madan B. Lokur also asked to fast track the investigation as the case is in public interest.
Common Cause, a non-profit led by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had moved the apex court alleging that entries in the visitor’s diary of Sinha’s residence showed that he met with several people accused in the coal scam while CBI was conducting its investigation. He was the special director of the CBI at that time.
The apex court in September 2015 appointed a team led by former CBI special director M.L. Sharma to probe if “investigations conducted by the CBI have been influenced in any manner by Mr. Ranjit Sinha in respect of the accused in the coal block allocation case.”
In April 2016, the team submitted its report on Sinha’s role but the court did not make the contents public. However, a copy of the report was given to the government’s top lawyer, attorney-general General Mukul Rohatgi, for his assessment.
Rohatgi had told the court that although the report was not conclusive, it does indicate that Sinha met with some people who are now accused in the coal scam.
In 2014, the Supreme Court cancelled the allocation of more than 200 coal blocks, finding the process arbitrary and illegal.
Bharat Parashar, a special CBI judge, is currently holding trial in a Delhi court for several cases pertaining to misappropriation of coal block allocation.