SC bars CBI from sharing probe details

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the CBI not to share details of its investigations and its status report either with the political executive or officialdom including its own officers and its law officers.

The blanket ban on the CBI team investigating the coal block allocation scam on sharing its investigation with anyone except CBI director Ranjit Sinha came as the apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph took serious view of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, and joint secretaries of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Ministry of Coal being shown the report and making four amendments as sought by them.

The court said no portion of the status report would be shared in future with the law minister, concerned minister under whose administrative control the CBI comes, any other cabinet minister, officials of the investigating agency, its director of prosecution and its law officers except its director.

As it perused the affidavit by Sinha, the court said that “as the minister is answerable to parliament, he can call for the progress report (into investigation of a case) but he can’t intrude and make amendments”.

However, the court was unforgiving of two officials from the coal ministry and the PMO, at whose instance two amendments were in the status report.

Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran told the court that interaction with these officials was needed to clarify some of the issues.

Displeased with the Prasaran’s explanation, the court said that the job of the CBI was investigation and not interact. “Where is the occasion for interaction you were to investigate,” Justice Lodha observed.

Coming down heavily on the investigating agency for entertaining two joint secretaries from the PMO and the coal ministry, Justice Lodha asked: “How could you give/show the draft report meant for the court to those whose conduct was under the scanner?”

Noting that it was almost a year since investigation was taken up by the CBI, the court said that “no substantial progress have been made except for interaction with these two officials”.

Taking note of the CBI director saying that status report was neither given nor sought by the attorney general, the court said that no such thing was mentioned in the case of the two officials who had met senior officials of the agency March 6 to suggest two changes in the status report.

“It was not sharing but alteration”, Justice Lodha observed adding that “officials suggested amendments, you accepted them and amendments were carried out”.

Exhorting the probe agency to show spine, Justice Lodha said: “Somebody telling you do this. Somebody telling you do that. And you agree. You must actually try to make yourself a solid rock, but you are like sand.”

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