It was indeed an alarming Monday for former CBI director Ranjit Sinha as the Supreme Court directed an order to conduct a detailed investigation into his alleged involvement in the 2G and coal block allocation scams. The court asked to assign a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the roots of the issue from the logbooks submitted by senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan in the apex court in September 2014.
In an investigation conducted by The Indian Express in 2014, it showed that Sinha met with a number of people who were being investigated or had been investigated in the cases in 2013 and 2014. The investigation was conducted on 310 pages of the logbooks found at Sinha’s then residence in 2 Janpath, New Delhi.
A detailed examination found records of meetings with officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), whose officials are under investigation in connection with the 2G scam; Congress’s Vijay Darda and his son Devendra Darda, who were named as accused in the CBI’s March 2014 charge-sheet in the coal scam. The logbook highlighted that Devendra Darda met Sinha 5 times during the period under scrutiny. Mahendra Nahata met Sinha more than 70 times during this time period. Nahata is the promoter of Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL) and was accused of being involved in the 2G scam.
However, clarifying on the reason of his visits, Nahata had then told The Indian Express, “I am a family friend of Ranjit and have known him for two decades. I have met him a few times as a friend, but I don’t know where this 71 figure is coming from. As a friend, I will continue to meet him.”
Executives from Essar Group and Abhey Oswal Group were among other corporate faces who visited Sinha’s residence during this period.
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Another name that came to light was Deepak Talwar. A consultant was booked under the Niira Radia tapes involvement. Talwar visited Sinha’s house on 54 occasions. A Preliminary Enquiry (PE) was registered against Talwar by the CBI, but then was closed subsequently.
A person named Shiv Pal had also visited Sinha’s residence on as many as 120 occasions during this period. Interestingly 25 of these times he has been logged as ‘Shiv Pal + 1’. When contacted, Pal has said, “I know him (the CBI director) for the past 30 years. His family is very close to me. We both are from Bihar, so sometimes, when some bureaucrats or politicians visited Delhi, we used to go together.” Pal said he owned some petrol pumps in Delhi.
Among the big names are former ministers Salman Khurshid, who met Sinha in June 2013 and Subodh Kant Sahai who met him in February 2014. Even the former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had visited twice, as did former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar. When asked about the reason for visiting Sinha’s residence, Khurshid informed that he had to discuss some government business.
Among the most frequent visitors was a meat exporter Moin Qureshi, whose connections with Sinha’s predecessor at the CBI A P Singh created a controversy. Qureshi had visited Sinha on 70 occasions during 2013 to 2014. Qureshi is also facing a probe by the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his involvement in laundering money case. ED has already sent a report to CBI on Qureshi and his alleged connection with influential people.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sinha had said, “The veracity and authenticity of the registers has to be established and all this is an invasion of my privacy. Yes, people like Deepak Talwar and Devendra Darda did come to my residence, but so what? If people want me to hear their side of the story, should I refuse to meet them?” Sinha also said that officials who were preparing these logs sheet had repeated the names and vehicle numbers. He also said that these visitors were not as frequent as it has been mentioned.
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“Moin Qureshi still comes to my house since he has been very disturbed about the controversy surrounding him and the CBI. Similarly, Deepak Talwar has been coming to discuss some problems he has had with his airport project. But why should these people come every day? For what? This is someone from the inside making mischief,” Sinha added further.