The Supreme Court today directed that no CBI officer, who is investigating the coal scam cases or officials from SIT probing allegations of “abuse of authority” against former CBI director Ranjit Sinha, would be transferred without its prior permission. The apex court also expressed its displeasure over the transfer of DIG Ravi Kant who was supervising investigation of coal scam cases since 2012. A special bench of Justices M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri said even if there was legal opinion from Supreme Court-appointed special public prosecutor R S Cheema, prior permission of court would be needed before transferring officials who are investigating coal scam cases,.
Counsel for CBI senior advocate Amarendra Sharan sought the court’s clarification over the transfer of officials involved in probing the coal scam cases saying that Ministry of Home Affairs says that they can be transfered. The bench said there was an earlier order of the court that the officials cannot be transferred and before any transfer, prior permission of court would be required. “Transfer of any CBI officers investigating the coal scam cases shall happen only after prior permission from the court. No officer from SIT shall be changed without permission of the court,” it said.
Sharan informed the court that the CBI was still investigating the allegations against the ex-CBI director and they have registered a preliminary enquiry against Jindal Power for over pricing. Meanwhile, the apex court appointed four more officers to the SIT which is investigating the allegations against Sinha.
On January 23, the apex court had constituted a Special Investigation Team to probe the allegations of “abuse of authority” prima facie committed by Sinha to scuttle investigation and enquiries in coal block allocation cases. It had observed that a prima facie case has “definitely” been made out for probe into the abuse of authority by Sinha.
The apex court had said the present CBI Director would head the special investigation team (SIT) which would look into the report of the apex court-appointed panel headed by M L Sharma, a former Special Director of the agency, that had prima facie indicted Sinha in the matter. However, the apex court had made it clear that it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of allegations levelled by the petitioner or on the contents of the report prepared by the Sharma panel. The apex court said the CBI Director may take assistance of two officers of the agency after duly intimating the court and also take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence in respect of the investigations. The bench said the special public prosecutor for coal scam cases, senior advocate R S Cheema, would assist CBI Director and his team on legal issues related to the matter.