Coalgate: I was only doing my duty, says indicted CBI chief

Central Bureau of Investigation director Ranjit Sinha, flayed by the Supreme Court for sharing the agency's preliminary report on the coal block allocation scandal, today sought to justify himself by saying it was his duty to obey government orders.

Sinha told reporters in New Delhi that the CBI was not autonomous; and that he had only shown the report to senior government functionaries, including the law minister of the country; and not to ''outsiders''.

"I am a part of the government. I am not an autonomous body. I have not shown it to any outside person. I have shown it to the law minister of the country. I will inform the Supreme Court about any situation arising out of that,'' he said, adding that he would accept the decision of the Supreme Court.

Sinha also said that no ''substantive changes'' were made to the CBI report before by the political executive before it was submitted to the Supreme Court.

The apex court is irate that the results of an investigation it had ordered were not submitted to it directly; it is to be seen whether it buys Sinha's argument that he was only doing his duty.

Sinha also slammed former additional solicitor general Harin Rawal, who he says didn't consult the CBI before telling the apex court that the report hadn't been shown to the government, when it actually had.

Sinha said the CBI had no intention of misleading the court and said that he couldn't be blamed for Rawal's statement, which was made despite the lawyer being present at the meeting between him and law minister Ashwini Kumar.

Rawal subsequently resigned over the issue, after claiming that his boss, attorney general Goolam Vahanvati, had called him for the meeting with the law minister and the CBI director.

The political opposition, shallow as usual, continues to demand the head of the prime minister and his law minister over the issue.

However the case may turn out, the Supreme Court's desperate appeal in a recent case for autonomy to the CBI, the country's premier investigating agency, will continue to fall on deaf political ears.