Slamming the government for interfering in the functioning of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Supreme Court questioned the independence of the investigative agency.
“CBI has become a caged parrot speaking in master’s voice. It’s a sordid saga that there are many masters and one parrot,” the court said this while examining the CBI’s affidavit on interference with the agency’s coal report.
The court also pulled up Joint Secretaries of the PMO and Coal Ministry for meeting CBI officials and suggesting changes in the draft report.
Upset over letting the coal report being vetted, the court said that CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and the investigating team should have stood up and denied any access to two joint secretaries to the draft status report. “Job of CBI is not to interact with government officials but to interrogate to find the truth,” it said.
“Does it not subvert the integrity of investigation if changes are brought in status report on suggestion of Law Minister and government officers,” the court told the CBI.
“Status report on probe in coalgate shall not be provided to special CBI court where the FIR was registered,” the court ordered. The court also said that the CBI chief will ensure that no access be given to any person, including Law Minister, other Union Ministers, law officers, CBI counsel and Department of Prosecution of CBI to the probe in the coal block scam.
Seeking to clear his name off the controversy, Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the court that his meeting with CBI officials took place only on suggestions of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
On the court’s observation that no substantial progress has been made in the coal scam probe after registration of the case, the CBI assured the court of a thorough and qualitative investigation into Coalgate. “Will follow directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit,” it said.
To insulate the CBI from external influence and intrusion, the court asked the Centre to come out with a law before July 10.
The SC also wanted to know if the Law Minister can ask the CBI to show details of probe or status report in a case involving people of other ministeries and the PMO.
In its nine-page affidavit, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha had given details of the meetings which took place between the officials of the probe agency, the Law Minister, AG, then Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval and officials of PMO and Coal Ministry.
The submission made by Sinha contradicted the stand taken by the Law Minister and AG, who had refuted the allegation that they had suggested changes in the draft report.
The affidavit also said that there was no intention to suppress from the Supreme Court the fact that the draft report was shared with political executive and government officials.