Twelve days before his retirement, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha on Thursday suffered a major blow when the Supreme Court removed him from the 2G scam case, saying the allegations against him of protecting some accused appears to be “prima facie credible”.
The apex court, in an unprecedented order, handed over the case to the senior-most officer after Sinha in the 2G scam investigating team.
A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, however, refused to pass an elaborate order on the issue saying that it would “tarnish” the “image and reputation” of the premier agency.
The fate of the top cop, who is due to retire on December 2, in the case became abundantly clear when the bench, also comprising justices M B Lokur and A K Sikri, before rising for the lunch break, asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Sinha, about various options.
The court said it did not want to pass an elaborate order, because it would be against the interest and image of the agency.
“Prima facie the allegations made in the application(by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation) are credible and required to be accepted,” the bench observed.
However, his counsel insisted that the allegations levelled against Sinha of scuttling the 2G probe were “untrue”.
The CBI chief’s role was criticised by the apex court- appointed Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover and counsel appearing for CBI, K K Venugopal, also raised questions on Sinha naming a senior IPS officer as mole in the team.
The apex court also recalled its earlier order by which it directed the NGO to disclose the name of whistleblower who had provided documents and visitors diary of Sinha’s residence.
At the outset, the Special Public Prosecutor raised serious questions on the conduct of the top cop and contended that the whole case against some of the accused would have been “demolished” if Sinha’s instructions had been followed in the trial.
Grover said that stand taken by Sinha was “completely inconsistent” with the agency’s stand and said he tried to interfere at the last stage of the trial when the prosecution evidence was almost over.
He said that information that he gathered, after going through all file notings, is “shocking” and cannot be revealed in an open court.
The independent prosecutor also raised questions on the opinion of Law Ministry to allegedly favour some of the firms facing trial in 2G case.
“It is a sad story how ministry works. An official deposed saying that it was done on the basis of file notings of the Minister but the question is who was the person behind the Minister. Its shocking,” he said.
At this stage of proceedings, the hearing took a new turn with advocate Prashant Bhushan alleging that CBI counsel in 2G case K K Venugopal was directed by Sinha not to argue in this case.
The bench then queried who had given such direction.