New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to initiate a probe against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha for influencing the investigation into suspected irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.
“A prima facie case can be made against him," the court said, refraining from expressing any opinion on the veracity of the allegations.
A bench headed by justice Madan B. Lokur also asked the CBI to fast-track the investigation as the case is in public interest.
Common Cause, a non-profit led by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had moved the apex court, alleging that entries in the visitors’ diary at Sinha’s residence showed that he met several people accused in the coal block allocation case while the CBI was conducting its investigation. He was the special director of CBI at that time.
In 2014, the apex court asked Sinha to ‘not interfere’ with an investigation into the 2G spectrum allocation case. A bench headed by former chief justice H.L. Dattu said the court would not elaborate on the reasons for its decision in order “to protect the faith in the institution and the reputation of the director of the CBI".
The apex court in September 2015 appointed a team led by former CBI special director M.L. Sharma to probe if “investigations conducted by the CBI have been influenced in any manner by Mr Ranjit Sinha in respect of the accused in the coal block allocation case."
In April 2016, the team submitted its report on Sinha’s role but the court did not make the contents public. However, a copy of the report was given to top lawyer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi for his assessment.
Rohatgi told the court the report indicated that Sinha met some people who are accused in the coal scam.
CBI declined to comment on the matter. Calls made to Sinha went unanswered.