The SC suggested the name of M L Sharma, the CBI’s ex-special director, to head the probe.

Ranjit Sinha

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday proposed a team of at least four officials to probe into former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Ranjit Sinha’s meeting with the accused persons in the illegal coal block allocation cases at his official residence at 2 Janpath to scuttle the probe. The SC suggested the name of M L Sharma, the CBI’s ex-special director, to head the probe. It asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to seek Sharma’s consent and inform the court by next Monday after Rohatgi, who appeared for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), told the court the corruption watchdog does not have its own team to probe the matter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Justice A K Sikri, who was also part of the bench, suggested Sharma’s name for his “impeccable integrity and good reputation”. He said Sharma can choose other members of his team – either serving or retired officers from CBI, Enforcement Directorate or any other agency – to assist the CVC. Rohatgi was asked to suggest a few names in case Sharma refused to take the assignment. Appearing for petitioner-NGO Common Cause, advocate Prashant Bhushan suggested the name of former apex court judge Santosh Hegde. On May 14, indicting Sinha, the bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, which is monitoring the case, had held that it was completely “inappropriate” for him to have met the coal-scam accused in the absence of any Investigating Officer and directed the CVC’s assistance. In an expose, dna, which had access to the guest register of Sinha’s then official residence 2 Janpath, had reported a series of stories about his meeting with several accused persons in high-profile cases like the 2G spectrum and coal block allocation scams. Sinha had met a former union minister, an MP and also controversial meet exporter Moin Qureshi. dna had highlighted that Qureshi is a friend of Sinha’s predecessor AP Singh and he is equally friendly with Sinha. The guest diary details disclosed that Qureshi had visited Sinha’s residence at least 90 times. This is the second time that the court was taking exception to Sinha’s meeting with the accused. In November last year, the bench had restrained Sinha from interfering in the probe into the 2G cases. During the course of hearing, Sinha, who retired from service on December 2 last year, had admitted meeting the coal-case accused, claiming “it was one of the jobs of a supervisory officer to meet the accused and his meeting is not illegal.” In yet another application filed by Bhushan, alleging the CBI’s failure to probe into the Aditya Birla Group’s alleged hawala transactions, which had cropped up in a diary during the CBI raid in the coal scam, the court issued a notice and sought the response of the CBI and the ED. Bhushan also sought a probe into the permission granted for allegedly diverting coal from the block allotted to Reliance ADAG’s Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Madhya Pradesh. Bhushan said the search operations conducted on October 15, 2013 by the CBI at the Aditya Birla Group’s corporate office in the capital allegedly led to the recovery of a huge stash of unaccounted cash worth Rs 25 crore, a diary and other incriminating documents. The Income-Tax department has gone into the diary and prepared an appraisal report but CBI has failed to further probe into it.

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dna Impact: SC backs probe into ex-CBI chief Ranjit Sinha’s meeting with coal-scam accused