Ahead of SC hearing, ASG Rawal says Vahanvati tried to influence CBI coal probe

VahanvatiGoolam E. Vahanvati. (PTI)

In a major embarrassment to the government on the eve of the crucial Supreme Court hearing on its alleged bid to influence the CBI investigation of controversial coal blocks allotments, Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal Monday accused Attorney General G E Vahanvati of trying to influence the CBI probe while making him a "scapegoat" in the case.

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Rawal wrote a letter to Vahanvati and marked a copy to Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who is at the centre of the controversy.

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Rawal's outburst comes amid indications that the government is unhappy with him for telling the court in March that the CBI's status report on the coal blocks allotments probe had not been shared with the political executive.

It also comes a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with Vahanvati to discuss the case. Rawal's own role is also under the scanner as he was present at the March 5 meeting — along with Vahanvati, CBI director Ranjit Sinha and other officials — called by the law minister and changes were apparently made in the report.

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Sources said the government has taken a dim view of the ASG writing a damning letter to the AG on the eve of such a crucial court hearing.

Vahanvati, when reached, refused to comment on the issue.

In his letter, Rawal has provided a detailed breakdown of the meeting last month where Kumar asked for changes to be made to the CBI report, presented to the Supreme Court days later. Rawal has also said he received an SMS from the Attorney General to come to the law minister's office with the status report.

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