Supreme Court Seeks Status Report from CBI, Enforcement Directorate On Investigation In Coal Scam Cases
A laborer unloads coal at a wholesale market, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Seeks Status Report from CBI, Enforcement Directorate On Investigation In Coal Scam Cases

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought to know from the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate the status of investigation and trial in the coal block allocation scam cases probed by the two agencies.

The court said it would take a practical view on repatriation of officers, involved in the investigation of coal scam cases, to their parent departments in a manner that the investigation does not get stalled.

A bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said it needed to go through the case files as it was a new bench dealing with the matter and listed it for hearing on Oct. 27.

The bench said it would also like to have the assistance of senior advocate RS Cheema, who has been appointed as special public prosecutor by the top court for the coal scam cases, in the matter.

The bench allowed an enforcement directorate officer, who was engaged in the investigation of the cases, to go abroad for studies.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, said there are certain officers on deputation who have been posted in the agency for a very long time and now need to go back to their parent state cadre.

He said there are some officers who have completed the investigation and charge sheets have also been filed in such cases.

“The top court had earlier said that no officers involved in the investigation of the coal scam cases shall be changed without prior permission,” Mehta said.

To this, the bench said it “may not pass any omnibus order” in the matter but may allow repatriation of certain officers, who have completed their work or have remained posted in the department for a very long time, to their parent departments.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause said the ED wants to remove a lot of officers from the coal scam cases.

He also sought direction to the Special Investigation Team for filing a fresh status report of the probe into charges of “abuse of official position” by former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha by allegedly trying to scuttle the probe in the coal scam cases.

The bench, however, did not pass any order on the submission made by Bhushan.

On Nov. 27 last year, the top court had asked the SIT to submit the status report on the probe conducted into the charges of “abuse of official position” by Sinha.

The top court had earlier constituted the SIT headed by former CBI special director ML Sharma to look into the prima facie allegations against Sinha for trying to influence the probe in coal scam cases.

It had reiterated its earlier order that officers investigating and supervising the coal scam cases shall not be transferred or removed without prior express permission of the court.

The ED had earlier told the court that provisional attachment orders have been issued in more than dozen cases amounting to Rs 600.7 crore.

On Jan. 15 last year, the SIT had told the apex court that it would examine the bank account details of persons who had visited Sinha’s official residence.

The SIT, which filed its status report with regard to the investigation in the matter, said “substantial progress” has been made in the probe and its scope has been widened.

SPP Cheema had told the court that the SIT was trying to trace the number of vehicles which used to come to Sinha’s official residence.

The top court had in January last year constituted the SIT headed by the CBI director to look into the prima facie allegations against Sinha.

It was earlier informed that a panel headed by former CBI special director Sharma had held that Sinha’s alleged meetings with some high-profile accused in the coal scam prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.

On Dec. 7, 2015, the court had ordered handing over the original visitors’ diary of Sinha's official residence to the Sharma-led panel.

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