How SoniaG subverted the Constitution: Coalgate case study. CBI, act on Dr. Swamy’s letter of May 13, 2013
File photo: Coal mine in Odisha. Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up CBI, PMO and Coal Ministry officials for changing the “heart” of the coal scam probe report and directed the governments to come out with a law before July 10 to insulate the agency from “external influence and intrusion”.
Even as it came down heavily on these entities, the apex court also made a reference to the Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar’s role in vetting the probe report and asked, “does it not subvert the integrity of the investigation if changes are brought in status report on the suggestion of Law Minister and government officers.”
However, this apart, there were no strong observations against Kumar, who is battling to retain his position in the Cabinet, with the opposition demanding that he resign for vetting the draft report of the CBI to the Supreme Court.
Mail Today cartoonist R Prasad’s take on the Centre-CBI-Supreme Court tussle on the coal scam report.
The Bench wanted to know whether the Law Minister can ask CBI to show details of probe or status report in a case involving people of other ministries and the PMO.
During the three-hour long hearing, the bench was critical of the access given by the CBI to Shatrughna Singh and A K Bhalla, joint secretaries of PMO and the Coal Ministry respectively, to the draft probe reports.
“What business they (JS of PMO and Coal Ministry) have to go to CBI and look the draft status report. What business they have on earth to go to CBI to see draft status report?
“How can CBI permit them to peruse. Whether they took away draft report with them or not. next day, these people came and suggested changes in para 1.21. PE 2 is the most crucial.
“These two gentlemen visit the CBI office and they were shown the draft reports on March 6. They go back and on March 7, come back and say changes have to be done in two paragraphs,” the bench said adding “This is something which is very serious”.
The bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said the agency should stand up to all kinds of “pulls and pressures” and not share its probe report.
“You (CBI) are not applying your mind in such an important and sensitive case. There are pulls and pressures from all quarters. You should have the capability to stand the pulls and pressures.
“Supreme Court has given you strength 15 years ago (Vineet Narain case). You should make yourself solid as the rock but you are like the sand. We want a very professional, very qualitative, very thorough investigation,” the court said.
The bench, which accused the political executives and the officials of changing the heart of the probe reports, also said that as a result the “whole direction” of the investigation got changed.
“You could have said it earlier which is said now only. A different impression has come out. This is the position of the premier investigating agency in which we all take pride.
“The CBI should have stood up and denied the invasion, intrusion and incursion. It is a total act of indiscretion.
The CBI director said in an unequivocal term that changes were made in para 19 and they were of significant natures.
“The entire direction of investigation has changed. Now the investigation has gone in a particular direction,” it said.
The court termed as “sordid saga” the sharing and alterations in draft probe reports and said the CBI has become a “caged parrot” which is speaking in the voice of its political masters.
“…CBI has become a caged parrot. We can’t have CBI a caged parrot speaking in master’s voice. It is a sordid saga where there are many masters and one parrot,” the bench said.
It also took strong note of the transfer of Ravikant Mishra, the then CBI DIG who was in-charge of coalgate probe, to the Intelligence Bureau and asked the Government not only to repatriate him back but also not to disturb the 33-member probe team without its prior approval.
“Immediate steps should be taken by Centre and CBI to repatriate Ravikant Mishra, back with CBI for inquiry, investigation in coal block allocation case. Director CBI shall ensure that 33 officials, including Mishra, are not changed without the permission of this court,” the bench said.
The court, at the end of the hearing, passed a slew of directions and asked the CBI and the Centre to file affidavits.
“Henceforth, Director CBI shall ensure that in the investigation of allocation of coal blocks, no access of any nature is provided to any person, authority including ministers, Law Minister or any other central minister, law officers, counsel of CBI, department of Prosecution, CBI or any person or any officer of central government or any person outside the investigating team,” the order said.
It also made it clear that no court except the apex court will be given the status report filed so far.
The bench also sought to know from the Government and the CBI as to whether the Law Minister has the power to see the investigation report.
“Minister is answerable to Parliament but the minister cannot intervene in the investigation…After going through the affidavit filed by the director, there are certain questions which require some debate. The question is whether any person/ authority or Law Minister has any power under Rule of Business to share the report,” it said.
Coalgate: ‘Some people are more pious than Pope’: SC on JS
New Delhi, May 8, 2013 (PTI):
“There are some people who are more pious than the Pope,” was how the Supreme Court observed when repeated submissions were made about the role of two joint secretaries in altering the draft status report of CBI in the coalgate probe.
While the submissions were being made that the two joint secretaries — Shatrughna Singh (PMO) and A K Bhalla (Coal ministry), be directed to file an affidavit, a bench headed by justice R M Lodha said it would be considered at a later stage.
“They could have gone (to CBI) at the instance of somebody or must have gone by themselves. There are some people who are more pious than the Pope,” the bench observed.
“We will consider these questions and setting up of SIT as requested by Prashant Bhushan later,” the bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph said.
The court was anguished that, “In this situation, there was no justification at all, firstly, for two officials to peruse draft status report and recommend changes therein.
“Nor was there any justification for CBI to allow these officers to peruse draft reports and carry out amendments in draft status reports as suggested by the two joint secretaries.”
Pulling up the CBI for allowing them access to the report and making changes to its most crucial part at their instance, the bench also said, “The Director of CBI and for that matter, the investigating team should have stood up and denied these officers access to draft status report.”
“You are a mammoth organisation and you allowed the two persons to peruse the draft status report and incorporated the suggested amendments.” “What business these two joint secretaries have that they first come to CBI office or is CBI office a place where all and sundry can come and deal with the papers?” it asked CBI.
“These two gentlemen (JS of PMO and coal ministry) visit CBI office and they were shown draft report on March 6. They go back and on March 7 come back and say changes have to be done in two paragraphs. This is something which is very serious,” the bench observed.
“On March 6 evening, they shared draft status report. Next day, March 7, they suggested amendments in Para 1.2 of PE 2 and of PE 4. “Bones, blood and muscle of the probe is in PE 2. Para 1.21 of PE 2 is the heart of the report and that is amended. PE report are most important,” the court said.
The court also said, “They are called for supply of documents to CBI. Now what business they have to go to CBI and look at the draft status report. What business they have on earth to go to CBI to see draft status report?
“How can CBI permit them to peruse (the report)? Whether they took away draft report with them or not. Next day, these people come and suggest changes in para 1.21 and ask to delete. PE 2 is the most crucial.
The court also also pointed that the role, act, and ommision and commision of the two joint secretaries, as representatives of the government, is also under scanner.
A basic feature of the Indian Constitution is the framework for governance. This framework has been subverted by instituting extra-constitutional entities bypassing institutions of governance. Coalgate is a case study in this subversion. The extra-constitutional entities led by SoniaG and a Gang of Four controlled the allocation of coal blocks to harness the natural wealth of the nation to create illicit wealth of the type stashed away as black money in tax havens.
SC is monitoring the investigation by the CBI which should start with the policies and processes for allocation of coal blocks to select beneficiaries. It is amazing that this investigation by CBI under Court supervision was sought to be subverted by amending the status report submitted to the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The key amendments show the actors in action to protect the extra-constitutional authority and beneficiary. PE 2 which relates to allocation of coal blocks for the period 2006-2009 was amended.”…allegations of corruption and conspiracy against unknown public officials of the Ministry of Coal are the subject matter of PE 2. 11 FIRs have already been registered. In light of the position exposited in Vineet Narain1 there was no justifiable reason for the two Joint Secretaries to peruse the draft status reports and recommend changes therein nor there was any justification for the CBI to allow these officers access to the draft status reports and allow the changes in the draft status reports as suggested by them. The Director, CBI and the investigating team ought to have acted as per the law laid down in Vineet Narain1.”
The SC has directed: “The Director, CBI shall henceforth ensure that secrecy of the inquires and investigations into allocation of coal blocks is maintained and no access of any nature whatsoever in this regard is provided to any person or authority, including any Minister of the Central Cabinet, Law Officers, Advocate(s) of CBI, Director of Prosecution and officials/officers of the Central Government.”
This direction means that CBI should inquire into the allocation of coal blocks during 2006-2009. In his letter of May 13, 2013 to Director, CBI, Dr. Subramanian Swamy has brought out that a group reporting to Sonia Gandhi controlled the coal block allocations consisted of Mr. T.K. A. Nair (then Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister), Mr. Pulok Chatterji (then Joint Secretary in the PMO), Mr. Motilal Vohra (Treasurer, Congress Party) and Mr. Ahmed Patel (Adviser to Ms Sonia Gandhi). It is incumbent upon CBI to investigate following this lead, review the documents and and interrogate Sonia Gandhi and others on the policies and processes adopted to make the coal block allocations to select beneficiaries.
a) “The tentative finding about non-existence of a system regarding allocation, weightage and marks was deleted”. This clearly indicates that the factum of there being no system of giving weightage/marks for specific criteria and that the decisions were taken in an arbitrary manner was deleted.
b) “The other tentative finding of non-preparation of broad sheets or charts by the Screening Committee, to the best of our recollection, was deleted by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Law & Justice .”- This indicates the fact that there are no records containing the calculations made by the screening committee and this fact was deleted.
c) “Further from the Para 1.23 of the same report deletion of a sentence about the scope of inquiry with respect to legality of allocation, while amendments in law were in the process, was done by the Union Minister of Law & Justice.” The gravamen of the charge of the C&AG was that while the law was being amended, to give effect to the June, 2004 decision for allocation by bidding/auction and till 2011, for a period of eight years, nothing was done thus causing wrongful loss to the government. The Law Minister prevailed and deleted that part of CBI’s Status Report which confirmed what the C&AG had said.
d) “The changes made in the Paragraph 2.8 of the final Status Report pertaining to PE4 about non-existence of approved guidelines for allocation of coal blocks incorporated at the instance of the officials of the PMO and the Ministry of Coal and the same were factually correct.“
The changes sought to be made are a cover-up by suspects who were keen to protect someone, the key beneficiary, sutradhari of the coal block allocation.
CBI should ignore the changes made in the status report by concerned parties (and suspects themselves) involved in the scam (since such changes have been declared illegal by the SC) and investigate all policies and processes which resulted in the scam and initiate legal action against the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the illegal, fraudulent allocations.
The Supreme Court Order
The Supreme Court’s May 8 order in the coalgate investigations, questioning the behaviour of the CBI director, law minister, the counsel for the govt, PMO and coal ministry officials
ITEM NO.301 COURT NO.4 SECTION PIL
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
WRIT PETITION (CRL.) NO(s). 120 OF 2012
MANOHAR LAL SHARMA Petitioner(s)
THE PRINCIPLE SECRETARY & OTHERS Respondent(s)
(With appln(s) for directions and stay and intervention and
W.P(C) NO. 463 of 2012
W.P(C) NO. 429 of 2012
W.P(C) NO. 498 of 2012
W.P(C) NO. 515 of 2012
Date: 08/05/2013 These Petitions were called on for hearing today.
WP 410/2012 Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma,
WP 463/2012 Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Adv.
WP 429/2012 &
WP 515/2012 Mr. Satyajit A. Desai, Adv.
Mr. U.U. Lalit, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Sanjay Parikh, Adv.
Mr. Bhavanishankar V. Gadnis, Adv.
Mr. Navnit Kumar, Adv. For
Mr. Ashok H. Desai, Sr. Adv.
Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, Adv.
UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following
O R D E R
We have heard Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma, petitioner-in-person in Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 120 of 2012, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, advocate for the petitioners in Writ Petition (Civil) 463 of 2012, Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney General, Mr. Mohan Parasaran, learned Solicitor General, Mr. U.U. Lalit, learned senior counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Mr. T.R. Andhyarujina, learned senior counsel for the Union of India.
In Vineet Narain and Others Vs. Union of India and Another1, this Court emphasised the need for insulation of CBI from any extraneous influences to enable it to discharge its duties in the manner required for proper implementation of the rule of law. In para 48 of the report, it was observed that in view of the common perception shared by everyone including the Government of India and the Independent Review Committee of such need, it was imperative that some action was urgently taken. Accordingly, certain directions were issued in this regard. It was, inter alia, directed that the Central Government shall take all measures necessary to ensure that the CBI functions effectively and efficiently and is viewed as a non-partisan agency.
On a careful consideration of the affidavit of the Director, CBI filed before this Court on May 6, 2013 pursuant to the order dated April 30, 2013, we find that draft status reports pertaining to PE 2 and PE 4 have been shared with the Law Minister, Law Officers and the two Joint Secretaries— one from the Ministry of Coal and the other from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and at their instance some changes have been made. Some of the changes made in these draft status reports are significant.
PE 2 relates to allocation of coal blocks for the period 2006-2009. In the course of inquiry into PE 2, 11 FIRs alleging corruption and conspiracy against unknown public officials of the Ministry of Coal have already been registered by the CBI. In Vineet Narain1, whilst acknowledging that overall control of the CBI and responsibility for its functioning has to be in the executive, this Court was of the view that in the matter of investigation, a scheme giving the needed insulation from extraneous influences of the controlling executive was imperative. This Court noted that though the Minister who has been given responsibility for the functioning of the CBI has general power to review its working and give broad policy directions and he has also power to call for information regarding progress of the cases being handled by the agency, but none of these powers would extend to permit the concerned Minister to interfere with the course of investigation and prosecution in any individual case.
As noted above, allegations of corruption and conspiracy against unknown public officials of the Ministry of Coal are the subject matter of PE 2. 11 FIRs have already been registered. In light of the position exposited in Vineet Narain1 there was no justifiable reason for the two Joint Secretaries to peruse the draft status reports and recommend changes therein nor there was any justification for the CBI to allow these officers access to the draft status reports and allow the changes in the draft status reports as suggested by them. The Director, CBI and the investigating team ought to have acted as per the law laid down in Vineet Narain1. In the backdrop of the above, we wanted to know from Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney General, whether the Central Government intended to put in place appropriate law for the independence of the CBI and its functional autonomy and insulate it from extraneous influence(s) of any kind so that CBI is viewed as a non-partisan investigating agency. This query was put to the learned Attorney General as we thought that if the statutory framework was in place, there would not be any necessity for us to undertake exercise in this regard.
Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney General, stated that he would seek instructions and report to the Court by way of an affidavit on behalf of the Central Government. We accept his statement. Such affidavit may be filed by July 3, 2013. Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel for the petitioners in Writ Petition (Civil) 463 of 2012, in light of the facts that have emerged from the affidavit of the Director, CBI filed on 06.05.2013 raised the following questions for our consideration:-
Mr. Prashant Bhushan also pressed the payer for constitution of a Special Investigating Team (SIT). We leave the above questions and the prayer for constitution of SIT for consideration, if necessary, at a later point of time.
As of now, in our considered view, the following directions are required to be followed by the CBI in the matter of inquiry and investigation into PE 2, PE 4 and other inquiries relating to allocation of coal blocks:-
We clarify that we have not expressed any final opinion in the matter.
The Director, CBI shall submit status report duly vetted by him of the progress made upto July 5, 2013 by July 8, 2013. List the matters on July 10, 2013.
|(Rajesh Dham) | |(Renu Diwan) |