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Coal scam: SC mulling special public prosecutors to study CBI reports

New Delhi : The Supreme Court Tuesday indicated it may favour appointing special public prosecutors to examine the CBI reports and the material of its investigations into various cases related to the coal scam.

Seeking to put in place such a mechanism to independently and objectively examine the CBI report, a bench of Chief Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph asked senior counsel Amarendra Saran for the CBI and Prashant Bhushan representing NGO Common Cause to suggest some names.

“The court wants to have an assurance whether the view you have taken is an appropriate view,” Chief Justice Lodha said, adding that it wanted to know if the conclusions the CBI has drawn based on the facts before the agency were prima facie correct.

“Let us have a thorough examination of the material by a competent authority.”

The court thought of taking the route of special public prosecutors to vet the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reports, as Saran once again resisted the earlier move of asking CBI to send all its reports to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for scrutiny where it was filing the closure report or there were differences within the agency on the course to be adopted in a particular case.

“Whenever we file a closure report, my report is suspected,” Saran told the court as he contested the direction that the CBI send, to the CVC, the cases with entire material where it is filing a closure report.

Bhushan told the court that the CBI’s resistance to scrutiny of its reports by the CVC was based on the mandate of the CVC under the statute it was created.

Suggesting a way out, Saran told the court to appoint a special judge to exclusively deal with coal scam related cases. “Once a special judge is appointed, then he would look into all the cases and material relating to them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the court was informed that the CVC had differed with the conclusions of the investigating agency in some of the cases that were sent to it for scrutiny.

To this, the court said that all such cases be sent to the CBI director and he would act as per the CVC report. In the other cases, the CVC has concurred with the conclusions of the CBI.

The apex court May 8 asked the CBI to submit the material of 25 preliminary enquiries in coal scam-related cases to the CVC for its examination and report to the apex court.

The court asked both counsel to come back with the names that it may consider for appointment as special public prosecutors on the next date of hearing July 18.

It said that it will also examine an application by petitioner M.L.Sharma seeking a CBI probe to ascertain the alleged role of four top bureaucrats and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the scam.

Besides Gandhi, the four bureaucrats whose role Sharma wants the probe agency to look into are the then principal secretary T.K.A.Nair to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, former power secretaries V.S.Sampath (now Chief Election Commissioner) and H.S.Brahama (Election Commissioner), and former home Secretary R.K.Singh (now a Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha MP from Bihar).

Sharma told the court that investigating agency was only probing those who were allocating the coal blocks and neither the officials nor political masters were being touched.