Govt vetted coal scam report, CBI will tell Supreme Court

Note: The story was first published in the April 13, 2013 edition of The Indian Express. For the epaper link click here: Govt vetted coal scam report, CBI will tell SC

The UPA government could be in for some major embarrassment in the coal blocks allotment scandal as the CBI is learnt to be inclined to inform the Supreme Court that the controversial probe status report it submitted last month had been vetted by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Prime Minister's Office officials.

Sources told The Indian Express that senior CBI officials, including director Ranjit Sinha, were summoned by Kumar days before the status report was filed.

During the lengthy meeting, also attended by some officials of the law ministry, several amendments in the status report were suggested and some also incorporated by the CBI.

"We resisted as much as we could, but yes, some toning down was done following the meeting," a CBI officer present at the meeting in Shastri Bhavan said.

Sources also told The Indian Express that the CBI's status report was similarly "vetted'' by senior PMO officials. During that meeting, a team of CBI officers, which did not include Sinha, was present although it is not clear whether more changes were made in the report at this meeting.

The CBI's stand in the report, submitted to the apex court on March 8, differs from that of the government. The report pointed out irregularities in coal blocks allotment made in 2006-09 during UPA-1, and said it was done without verifying the credentials of companies which allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves.

The government had refuted the CBI's findings in the court on March 12, with Attorney General G E Vahanvati saying the CBI could not be the "final word" on it.

But in an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court had asked Sinha to clarify through an affidavit if the status report had been examined by the government as Vahanvati, when asked, told the court he had not gone through the report.

... contd.

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