Reference to legality inquiry removed: CBI

Reference to legality inquiry removed: CBI

Investigative agency tells apex court Ashwani Kumar, Vahanvati, Rawal altered coal scam report

Reference to legality inquiry removed: CBI

The CBI told the Supreme Court on Monday that “significant changes” had been made at the instance of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Coal Ministry in the “final status report” of its enquiry into the coal block allocation scam.

The fresh submissions made by the probe agency referred to two “significant” changes made in the report by the law minister himself. Some changes were made on the suggestions of Attorney General (AG) G E Vahanvati and also (then) Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval.

The matter will come up for hearing before the court on May 8.

In his nine-page affidavit before the court, CBI director Ranjit Sinha pointed out that the changes pertained to the investigation into the allocation of coal blocks made between 2006 and 2009 during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

“The other tentative finding about non-preparation of broad sheets or charts by the screening committee to the best of our recollection was deleted by the Union minister for law and justice. Further from paragraph 1.23 of the same report, deletion of a sentence about scope of enquiry with respect to legality of allocation while the amendments in law were in process, was done by the Union minister for law and justice,” Sinha said.

Even though the affidavit did not disclose the exact sentence deleted by Kumar, it submitted that the original as well as amended report had already been filed in the court on April 30.

Regarding the changes effected at the instance of the PMO and the Coal Ministry, the affidavit said: “The tentative finding about non-existence of a system regarding allocation of specific weightage/points was deleted at the instance of the officials of the PMO and the Coal Ministry.”

Effectively, the CBI director belied the claims made by the minister and the attorney general that they had not seen the status report on coal block allocation scam case.
Kumar had claimed that he had made only some grammatical changes. The AG, on the other hand,  told the court on March 12 that he himself had not seen the report.

Sinha said: “Changes have been made only in status reports of preliminary enquiry (PE) 2 and 4, since only these were shared. The original draft status reports of the said two PEs initially approved by me and their final versions with changes highlighted by way of footnotes have been filed in a sealed cover before the court on April 30.”

In the affidavit filed on the directions of the apex court, Sinha said it was Raval who
informed him on March 6 about the law minister’s desire to peruse the draft report. In the meeting held at the minister’s office on that day itself, two PEs were discussed in the presence of  Vahanvati and Raval. During the day, again on Raval’s message, CBI joint director Galhotra and DIG Ravikant went to the residential office of the AG. The  AG “glanced through” the portions of the status reports and “made certain observations.”

Giving further details, the affidavit said that the AG “suggested certain minor changes in the status report of PE -2” on (allocation during UPA I). However, it also said the AG neither asked for, nor was he given a copy of the “final” status reports.

In the evening of March 6, at the request of Shatrughan Singh, joint secretary in the PMO, a meeting was held in the chamber of Galhotra at CBI headquarters. A K Bhalla, joint secretary in the Coal Ministry, was also present and both officials went through the draft status reports. They suggested two changes in the final status reports on March 7.

The final status report by the CBI incorporated statement on “non-existence of approved guidelines for allocation of coal blocks” at the instance of the officials from the PMO and the Coal Ministry as it was “factually correct.”
On March 7, Sinha vetted the reports and endorsed them for their submission in the court.

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