Supreme Court slams CBI, PMO over coal scam report, but spares Ashwani Kumar

SupremeCourtSupreme Court of India

Making a stinging criticism of CBI and senior officials of the coal ministry and PMO, the Supreme Court today hauled them up for changing the 'heart' of the Coalgate probe report but appeared to have given a breather to the Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and the government for the time being.

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Observing that CBI was like a 'caged parrot,' the court said it should stand up to all 'pulls and pressures' and not share its probe with anyone including the Law Minister.

In a significant order after a three-hour hearing, the bench headed by Justice R M Lodha asked the government to make an effort to come out with a law before July 10 to insulate CBI from external influence and intrusion.

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It also directed CBI not to share any report pertaining to the investigation in the coal blocks allocation scam with any officials or ministers other than those in its 33-member investigation team and the CBI Director.

"The heart of the report was changed on suggestions of government officials," the court said in an apparent reference to the raging controversy over the sharing of the draft status report with political executive and joint secretaries in the Coal ministry and the PMO.

The CBI action had triggered a major political controversy with Opposition, particularly BJP, demanding the sacking of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

As a result, the 'whole direction' of the probe was changed, the court said.

The court directed that immediate steps be taken by Centre and CBI to repatriate DIG Ravi Kant Mishra, who was the investigating officer in coal blocks allocation case and was shifted out to Intelligence Bureau.

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