CBI director apologises to SC for letting law ministry alter draft report

CBI director Ranjit KumarThe Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) today submitted a second affidavit on the coal blocks allocation report, and the CBI director also made an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for sharing the report with the law ministry, the PMO as also the coal ministry.

In its revised affidavit, the CBI has admitted that changes were made in the report by Ashwini Kumar after CBI director Ranjit Kumar met him on 6 March, making things difficult for the law minister Ashwini Kumar and the government's position in the case untenable.

Former assistant solicitor-general Harin Raval and the attorney general G E Vanahvati and officials of the PMO and the coal ministry were also present at the meeting with the law minister, the affidavit said.

The nine-page affidavit filed by CBI director Ranjit Sinha details the meetings which took place between CBI officers, the law minister, AG, the then additional solicitor general Harin Raval and officials of the PMO and the coal ministry.

The submission made by Sinha today were in outright contrast with the stand taken by the law minister and the AG, who had refuted all allegations of their involvement in altering the contents of the draft report.

The affidavit also makes it clear that the law ministry had sought removal of any reference to the PMO in the draft report.

The affidavit, however, insisted that the changes made in the draft report on the suggestions of the law minister and Vanahvati have ''neither altered the report nor shifted the focus of inquiries in any manner''.

Sinha also said that ''no names of suspects or accused were removed from the status report and also that no suspect or accused was let off in the process.''

''Majority of these changes was done by my officers in order to refine the report either on their own or in consultation with the ASG (Raval) and his assisting advocate or by law minister. Besides, a few changes were also done on the suggestion of AG and officials of PMO and coal ministry,'' Sinha said.

The CBI chief also said, ''It is difficult at this stage to attribute each change to a particular person with certainty.''

Prashant Bhushan, petitioner in the case said that the CBI director's affidavit clearly contradicted the statements made by the AG to the court. ''Changes were made in the report at various levels. The AG lied in the court that he had not seen the report. This is a case of gross contempt of court,'' he said.

The Supreme Court had, last week, come down heavily on the government and CBI when it said the investigating agency had let the court down and also commented that the time had come to ''insulate the CBI from political interference.''