CBI lacks guidelines on sharing status reports

There was no guideline for the CBI on whether it could share its status report on any ongoing investigation with others, including ministers, the probe agency claimed before the Supreme Court on Monday.

In his affidavit, CBI director Ranjit Sinha tried to absolve the agency of any wrongdoing by sharing the status report on the coal block allocation scam and allowing alterations by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and senior officials from the PMO and the Coal Ministry.
“There is nothing in the CBI (manual) to guide whether status reports in respect of ongoing investigations in a sub-judice matter are to be shared with others.

The departmental circulars and government instructions are also silent on this point. In our institutional memory too, no such general guidelines could be located,” he said.

The disclosure by Sinha came in response to a specific query by a three-judge bench presided over by Justice R M Lodha , which asked him on April 30 to explain the procedure being followed by the CBI in sharing status reports regarding ongoing investigations.

However, the affidavit referred to the case of Vineet Narain vs Union of India (1996), in which certain directions were issued by the apex court while dealing with the Jain Hawala case.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice J S Verma had said: “To eliminate any impression of bias and avoid erosion of the credibility of the investigation being made by the CBI and any reasonable impression of lack of fairness and objectivity therein, it is directed that the CBI would not take any instructions from, report to, or furnish any particular thereof to any authority personally interested in or likely to be affected by the outcome of the investigation into any accusation.”

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