Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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SC orders probe against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha in Coal scam case

The Supreme Court on Monday constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT), to be headed by the CBI Director, to look into the prima facie allegations against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha of trying to influence the probe in the coal scam cases.

A bench headed by Justice M.B. Lokur said the CBI Director can take assistance of two officers of his choice after duly intimating the apex court.

“The case is in public interest and we hope the director will investigate it earnestly,” the top court said.

The court, however, made no comments on the allegations against Sinha.

It is the new CBI chief, Alok Verma, who will be in charge of the investigation against Mr Sinha, judges ruled today. The post-mortem will determine if Mr Sinha worked to thwart his agency’s case against the people who he met privately as often as “50-60 times” according to earlier updates provided to the Supreme Court.  Judges had last year accepted as authentic a visitors’ book from Mr Sinha’s home furnished as evidence of inappropriate appointments in 2014 with those under investigation for serious criminal charges.

The apex court added that an independent SIT was not needed and hoped that with the change of guard in CBI, the agency would conduct fair and impartial probe against its former boss.

The bench ordered CBI director Alok Verma to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate Sinha and take the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in confidence while conducting probe. It also directed Verma to suggest composition of the team and asked him to give timeline within which the probe would be completed.

The apex court had on July 12 last year reserved the order on the issue after Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi told the Bench that the panel headed by former CBI Special Director M.L. Sharma has held that Mr. Sinha’s meetings with some high-profile accused in the scam, prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.

Mr. Rohtagi, who had only received an initial report of the panel for perusal on condition of confidentiality, had said he had gone through the report which has found that the visitors’ diary at Mr. Sinha’s residence was genuine.

However, he had said the correctness of entries in that diary could only be ascertained in the court through evidence.

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