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JUL 09 2013

Coalgate: CBI seeks Supreme Court nod to share probe info

  • Economic Times, ET Bureau / Hyderabad
  • Created: Tue 09th JUL 2013

Says scope of coalgate probe is expanding and 13 regular cases and three Preliminary inquiries have so far been registered

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday approached the Supreme Court for modifications of the latters order barring it from sharing the Coalgate probe report with any government agency or officers. It also sought lifting of restrictions imposed on it from changing the 33-member investigation team.

In separate applications, the agency said the scope of the probe was expanding and 13 regular cases and three Preliminary Enquiries (PEs) had so far been registered.

The agency cited various reasons, including statutory ones, for seeking modification of the May 8 order of the apex court that it be allowed to share probe information with the "appropriate government/authority.

CBI said statutorily it is required to share probe information with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and various government bodies, including its prosecutors, for purposes such as getting sanction, necessary government notifications and for strengthening the case with the help of experts so that the matter can stand the "litmus test" of trial.

"The scope of inquiries/investigation is expanding. However, to comply with the mandate of the statutory provisions, it may be necessary for the CBI to share information with (a) appropriate government for purpose of notification/consent under the Act (b)the appropriate authority for the purpose of the approval under the Act," the CBI said.

It referred to various provisions of its manual and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act by which the agency is being regulated.

The agency, in another application, sought the Supreme Court's nod to carry out changes in the investigation team on the ground that more officers are required in the probe team as the scope of the scam has been expanding.

"With progress on the inquiries in allocation of coal blocks, more investigating officers are required to be associated with the investigation.

The apex court, while describing the CBI as a "caged parrot, had pulled up the agency for sharing information on its status report with then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Attorney General G E Vahanvati.

It had on May 8 directed the CBI to ensure secrecy of its probe and not allow access of its investigation to any authority including ministers, law officers, advocates and prosecutor of the central government.

The court had also asked the agency not to change the 33-member probe team without its approval.

The CBI said said that it needed to share the probe details with the law officers for getting their opinion to strengthen the case.

"This in house mechanism of seeking legal opinion during investigation ensures that only those cases are sent for trial which can stand the litmus test. Not only this, the scrutiny of evidence collected during the investigation by law officers leads to strengthening of evidence required for proving the commission of the offence against the accused. It contended that during ongoing investigations, consultations with law officers were required for correct assessment of the evidence collected. "Such considerations ensure that evidence to be sent to the court is legally admissible," CBI said.

"The present inquiries/investigations have ramifications not only in the area where the CBI has jurisdiction under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act but also in the jurisdiction of the state," the agency said. "In these circumstances, in order that the investigation proceeds efficaciously and all aspects of the matter be fairly and effectively probed, it is respectfully prayed that the direction dated May 8 may suitably be modified to exempt the CBI from disclosing such information as is necessary to comply with the statutory mandate," it said.

The agency said that CBI Director be allowed to "dissociate" probe team member under "exceptional cirumstances" and he be also permitted to effect transfer of officer for administrative reasons. "There may be certain exceptional cirumstances where a member of team is to be dissociated immediately. It is requested that to allow the CBI Director to disssociate some member of the team in case of exceptional cirumstances the name of whom and reasons for dissociation would be intimated to the court in a sealed cover, as and when it occurs," the agency said.


Delhi Coal Central Vigilance Commission Coalgate Central Bureau of Investigation

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