In a case that paves way for a first of its kind investigation by a CBI chief into one who headed it previously, the Supreme Court today constituted a special investigation team, to be headed by the CBI Director, to look into the prima facie allegations against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha of trying to influence the probe in the coal scam cases.
A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said the CBI Director can take assistance of two officers of his choice after duly intimating the apex court.
The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, said the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has prima facie indicted Sinha for allegedly scuttling the coal scam cases.
"Since there has been a change in guard in CBI, we will continue to repose our faith in CBI," the bench said, while making it clear that it has not expressed its opinion on the writ petition pending before it or the M L Sharma panel report.
The bench said Special Public Prosecutor for coal scam cases, senior advocate R S Cheema, would assist the CBI director and his team on legal issues relating to the matter.
It asked the CBI Director to inform the court on the next date of hearing about the composition of his team and the time needed to complete the probe.
Supreme Court directs to conduct investigation against former CBI Director, Ranjit Sinha for his alleged involvement in the coal scam case— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2017
"Prima facie a case is made out against him for allegedly conniving with certain accused in coal scam," said the Supreme Court bench.
The apex court had on July 12 last year reserved its order on the issue after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has held that Sinha's meetings with some high-profile accused in the scam, prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.
Rohtagi, who had only received an initial report of the panel for perusal on condition of confidentiality, had said he had gone through the report which has found that the visitors' diary at Sinha's residence was genuine.
However, he had said the correctness of entries in that diary can only be ascertained in the court through evidence.
The apex court-appointed panel was probing the alleged scuttling of probe into coal block allocation scam cases by Sinha, whose meetings with the accused persons were held as "completely inappropriate".
On December 7, 2015, the court had ordered handing over the original visitors' diary of the official residence of the former CBI director to the Sharma-led panel.