No proof dropped in minister-backed changes in coal report: CBI

New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The CBI told the Supreme Court Monday that at the instance of Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar four changes were made in its draft report on the probe into coal blocks allocation but no evidence against any suspect was removed.

In a nine-page affidavit, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Ranjit Sinha said that “there was no deletion of any evidence against any suspect” and the “central theme of the status report” was “not changed”.

Sinha said the CBI’s tentative findings that the screening committee which scrutinised applications for the allocation of coal blocks had not prepared a broadsheet or chart for its evaluation was deleted at the instance of Ashwani Kumar from the draft report.

“The other tentative findings about non-preparation of broadsheets or charts by the screening committee, to the best of our recollection, was deleted by the union minister of law and justice (Ashwani Kumar),” Sinha said in the affidavit, filed in pursuance to the apex court’s April 30 order.

It said at the instance of the minister a sentence was deleted about the scope of the inquiry with respect to the legality of the allocations.

Sinha said at the instance of the officials of the coal ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), its “tentative findings about the non-existence of a system regarding allocation of specific weightage/points was deleted…” from the draft status report based on its preliminary enquiry 2 (PE 2) concerning allocations made during 2006-09.

The affidavit said the changes were made in the final status report pertaining to its preliminary inquiry about the non-existence of approved guidelines for the allocation of coal blocks.

Pointing to the four changes made at the instance of Ashwani Kumar and officials of the PMO and the coal ministry, the affidavit said: “The central theme of the status report had not changed post-meetings. There was no deletion of any evidence against any suspect or accused, nor were any let off.”

Submitting that it had no intention of holding back any report from the government or suppress any information, the affidavit by Sinha said that in the absence of no specific direction on the issue by court “it did not occur to us” that the facts ought to be brought to its notice.

Leaving former additional solicitor general Haren Raval to fend for himself, the affidavit said that he had no instructions from the CBI to tell the court that the draft status report was not shared with anybody except the court.

Raval’s statement that the March 8 status report had not been shared with any one and was “meant only for the court” was not made on the instructions of the CBI, Sinha said.

The CBI director’s affidavit contradicted Attorney General G.E Vahanvati’s repeated assertion that he had not seen the status report.

“On the same day in the afternoon on the receipt of a message from Raval, CBI Joint Director O.P. Galhotra and DIG Ravikant went to the residence of Vahanvati, where Raval too was present. Vahanvati glanced through the status report of PE 2 and PE 4,” the affidavit said.

“He (Vahanvati) made certain observations which were explained to him. He also suggested certain minor changes in the status report of PE 2. The attorney general neither asked for nor was given a copy of the final status reports that were submitted before the (apex) Court,” the affidavit read.

Sinha recalled the sequence of meetings and said no minutes were prepared after the meetings between its officers and the officials of the PMO, coal ministry and the law officers.

Therefire, the facts stated in the affidavit were based on the best recollection of “my memory and of my officers,” Sinha said.

The CBI director told the court that there was nothing in the CBI (crime) manual to guide whether status reports in respect of on-going investigations in sub-judice matters were to be shared with others.

He said the departmental circulars and government instructions, too, were silent on this count.

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