CBI director Ranjit Sinha offers to recuse from `coalgate' probe

04 September 2014

CBI director Ranjit Sinha Beleaguered CBI director Ranjit Sinha has offered to recuse himself from coal scam investigation after the Supreme Court today sought details regarding entry list of visitors at his residence.

The CBI director, who has been under attack for allegedly meeting officials of companies involved in the coalgate as well as the 2G scam, said he would recuse himself from the ongoing probe in coal scam if the court ordered so.

"I will recuse myself from coal scam investigations if Supreme Court orders so," Sinha told reporters in New Delhi.

He also threatened to file a perjury case against an NGO for making "malicious and false" statements before the Supreme Court.

The CBI chief today faced fresh fire from an NGO which moved the Supreme Court demanding that he be kept out of the coal block allocation scam probe because he had interfered with it.

In an application filed in the court, NGO Common Cause referred to reports about the entry register at the CBI director's residence containing names of "influential" persons allegedly involved in the `coalgate.'

It accused him of scuttling the probe in the "high magnitude" cases in which 20 FIRs for offences of corruption, cheating, and criminal conspiracy have been lodged while only two chargesheets were placed in the trial court

The NGO said it was filing the application in the context of the "extraordinary developments" that have recently come to light.

It claimed there are "incontrovertible" facts in the public domain which lead to the "inescapable conclusion" that it is necessary to remove Sinha from the case for ensuring fair and impartial investigations.

The application referred to the alleged instances that "enumerate the instances of undue interference on the part the CBI director" in the coalgate probe.

"It is of particular significance that Sinha had several meetings with Vijay Darda, and his son Devendra Darda, who are being investigated in the case of illegal allocation of coal blocks.

"Sinha also met with Subodh Kant Sahay, former union minister, whose brother's company is one of the beneficiaries of the allocation of coal blocks and is being investigated by the CBI," the application filed through NGO's lawyer Prashant Bhushan said.

The fresh application was filed hours after the hearing in the NGO's plea in which Sinha's recusal from the 2G spectrum scam matter has been sought. In this application, Bhushan has alleged that the entry registers at his residence portrayed a "very disturbing" and "explosive material".

The NGO said that a trusted whistle-blower has brought to the notice of Bhushan some significant information contained in the entry registers of the years 2013 and 2014, which were maintained at the official residence of the CBI Director at 2 Janpath, New Delhi.

"This record, which has also been accessed by several media organisations, shows that the CBI director had met at his residence several persons, who are the accused in prominent cases like Coal blocks allocation scam, 2G scam, 4G scam, etc, without any of the investigation officers being present. Many of the meetings were held late at night," the application said.

"The aforesaid entry register of Sinha's residence runs into hundreds of pages and contains thousands of handwritten entries. The entries contain specific details, including the name of the visitor, date and time of visit, and the vehicle number, which can easily be verified in any investigation.

"It is to be noted that Sinha did not meet all these accused persons at his office, or in the presence of the investigation officers. He only met them at his residence without the investigation team being present," the application said while mentioning that a copy of the entry registers along with a list of prominent visitors was being filed in a sealed cover.

Bhushan also said the CBI director frequently met the accused in the 2G scam case, especially senior officials of Reliance Telecom of RADAG.

"Reliance and its officers have been chargesheeted by the CBI and the trial is about to get concluded as it is at the stage of defence evidence."

The application said when these facts came to light, Sinha got the CBI to issue a statement that these revelations were a lie and that no such entry register existed, and later, he issued a statement that this was tantamount to an invasion of his privacy.

Bhushan said, Sinha then issued a statement that some entries in the register were genuine, while the others were forged.

Finally, he again changed his statement and claimed that there was nothing wrong in meeting the accused, the application said.

"These changing versions show that Sinha has much to hide. From the above, it is clear that even after Sinha and the CBI were admonished by this court for showing the CBI status report to the political executive before it was filed in this Hon'ble Court and for modifying the status report at the instance of the political executive, he did not mend his ways.

"Sinha's frequent meetings at his residence with the accused in prominent cases like coal block allocation scam and 2G scam are of a piece with the attempts to damage the CBI's case in 2G cases, for which he was strongly criticised by Lalit, the then SPP.

"Hence, in the light of these facts and circumstances, it is respectfully prayed that in public interest and in the interest of fair investigations in the case, this Court may be pleased to direct that Sinha shall not interfere in coal block allocation case investigations and the prosecutions being carried out by the CBI, and shall withdraw from these cases," the application said.

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