Keep off 2G probe, SC tells CBI director

Ranjit Sinha's two-year tenure ends on December 2

Keep off 2G probe, SC tells CBI director

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Ranjit Sinha to recuse himself from the investigation into the 2G scam case. Sinha is set to retire on December 2.

The apex court order comes in the backdrop of credible evidence against Sinha of interfering in the investigation.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu also recalled its September 15 order directing the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, and its advocate Prashant Bhushan to reveal the identity of the whistleblower who provided information on the visitors’ diary to Sinha’s residence showing frequent meetings with the accused.

The order came as a huge personal setback to the CBI chief. The emergence of visitors’ diary to his 2, Janpath residence here depicting his alleged hobnobbing with the 2G accused, besides charges of trying to give a clean chit to some of the accused, proved to be his nemesis.

After a three-day long hearing where Sinha’s counsel Vikas Singh vehemently denied the charges made by the NGO, the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri, passed the order.

The apex court-appointed Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover's assertion that there was some credibility in the allegations, prompted the court to observe, “It appears that things are not proper.”

Grover said he was shocked after going through file notings relating to Sinha’s handling of the probe against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and approving transfer of supervising officer Santosh Rastogi from the case.

Concluding the proceedings, the court said that it did not want to pass an elaborate order as it could damage the reputation of the CBI. “The CBI has its own reputation. We don’t intend to damage the reputation. We are reiterating the statement because we are conscious that it could be made a big issue,” the bench said.

At the outset, the court took exception to the presence of about 10 CBI officers, including Joint Director Ashok Tiwari, to assist Sinha's counsel in the matter.

The unsolicited presence of large number of CBI officers in the courtroom was pointed out by the agency’s counsel K K Venugopal.

“Why are so many CBI officers present here? We are not hearing the 2G case. All these officers should go and do their duty,” the apex court said, asking the officers to leave the courtroom.

Reasoning

Much to the Supreme Court’s surprise, Venugopal said that he has been asked not to represent the agency in the matter by Tiwari as Singh would take over now.

Tiwari tried to reason by stating that all he meant was that Singh would appear for the CBI in the court during the hearing in Sinha’s case.

Venugopal, appearing for the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, pointed out to the court news reports about Sinha's allegation on Wednesday that DIG Rastogi acted as a mole and supplied documents to Bhushan.

He urged the court to direct the CBI chief to produce evidence or file an affidavit as the reputation of an officer was at stake.

On record

The court, however, took on record an affidavit filed by Bhushan stating that he never met Rastogi and that the officer did not supply any documents to him.
The bench said, “It can be safely said that he (Rastogi) is not passing any information to anybody.”

Shunting out the CBI chief from the 2G case, the court directed that a senior officer should take over the probe.

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