SC refuses to restrain media from reporting on 2G & coal scam cases

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 5 2014, 06:25am hrs
In a setback for CBI director Ranjit Sinha, Supreme court on Thurday refused to restrain media from broadcasting and publishing news giving the names of 2G spectrum and coal scam accused who visited him at his residence.

A Bench headed by Justice HL Dattu asked CPIL counsel Prashant Bhushan to file an affidavit annexing the documents pertaining to the entry list of visitors at Sinhas residence.

We have gone through the documents. We cannot take cognisance of this until it is placed on record, it said, while deciding to give an urgent hearing on Monday at 10 AM, half an hour before the normal court time.

The court instructed Bhushan to put the documents in the sealed cover and not share them with the government.

However, senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for Sinha, opposed any hearing on the matter saying allegations that he had met and favoured influential persons associated with accused in the 2G spectrum and coal scam cases are patently false and an attack on his reputation and a serious invasion of his privacy.

The CBI director asked Bhushan to reveal the source of the documents, including copies of the visitors logbooks maintained at his residence, allegedly showing he met company officials even as CBI was prosecuting them.

Please let him reveal how he secured the documents. Has he secured them in a manner known to law Singh said, adding the apex court should refuse to entertain such patently false accusations for the reason that the source of documents were not revealed.

People like Prashant Bushan are damaging the reputation of a very high functionary of the government, he said, drawing the court's attention on how the documents were leaked to media despite specific orders from the court to keep them in sealed cover.

What is the point of the court ordering that the documents be kept in sealed covers when it is splashed in media. He (the CBI director) occupies a very sensitive position handling some of the most important cases in the country. His reputation is at stake now, the senior counsel said.

Assuring Singh that if Bhushan does not indicate the source of his documents in his affdavit, the Bench responded by saying that we will certainly ask him.

However, Justice Dattu said the court had no control over other things happening outside the court. The press has its freedom, but we also hope the press is aware of the sensitivity of this matter, the bench observed.

The court then set for Monday the hearing on Bhushan's petition that there is a conflict of interest if the CBI chief continued to probe the high profile 2G and coal scam cases.

Bhushan had on Tuesday told the court that the guest register at Sinhas residence revealed very disturbing and explosive material. This, according to him, implied that investigations of the case by CBI may have been compromised by the meetings that Sinha had with some of the accused or their representatives from companies being probed in the 2G spectrum case. He also sought a court directive asking Sinha to recuse himself from the investigation into the 2G spectrum case.

On Wednesday, speaking to a news channel, Sinha admitted that he had met the company officials once or twice, but had not done them any favours.