Home / Politics / Policy /  Ranjit Sinha’s conduct was inappropriate: Supreme Court

New Delhi: In a setback for the country’s former top detective Ranjit Sinha, the Supreme Court on Thursday said his meetings with some of the accused in the coal allocation case in the absence of investigating officers were “completely inappropriate".

Sinha has been accused of meeting several people investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) he headed until his retirement on 2 December.

“There cannot at all be any justification for him to meet any accused person in a criminal case where investigation is underway, without the investigating officer being present, whether it is in his office or as alleged by Mr Prashant Bhushan, at his residence and that too, allegedly, several times including late at night," the court said.

A bench of justices Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A.K. Sikri issued notice to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to assist the court to ascertain whether his meetings with the accused had any bearing on the investigations. The CVC is to respond by 6 July.

The post of the central vigilance commissioner has been vacant since September. The apex court on Wednesday allowed the government to proceed with this appointment.

Sinha, when called, declined to comment.

A CBI spokesperson refused to comment as Sinha is now retired.

The court, in its order, also observed that a whistleblower may access confidential documents if it is public interest.

“...if somebody accesses documents that ought to be carefully maintained by the CBI, it is difficult to find fault with such a whistle blower particularly when his or her action is in public interest," the court notes.

Further, as regards accessing the documents in this case, the court backed the whistleblower, saying that “all that is of relevance is whether the disclosure by the whistleblower was mala fide or not. We are of the opinion that the disclosures made by the whistle blower were intended to be in public interest".

Non-government organization (NGO) Common Cause, one of the petitioners in the coal scam cases before the apex court, has alleged that Sinha met member of Parliament (MP) Vijay Darda and his son Devendra Darda at his residence, and sought a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the issue.

The NGO’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan said these meetings took place at a time when the CBI was still considering whether to prosecute the Dardas in connection with the coal scandal or not. He said Sinha had overturned decisions of his junior officers and asked them not to register cases in several situations.

The court also dismissed a perjury application that Sinha had filed against Common Cause and Bhushan, saying even that if some “twisted interpretation" had been given to the documents provided by them, the same would not amount to perjury.

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