Shared coal status report with law minister, CBI chief tells SC

FpLaw Minister Ashwani Kumar with Finance Minister P Chidambaram in Parliament House Friday; (left) the key paragraph from Ranjit Sinha’s affidavit; (above left) The Indian Express report in its edition dated April 13, 2013

CBI director Ranjit Sinha admitted to the Supreme Court on Friday that the agency's status report on the coal blocks allocation case had been shown to Law Minister Ashwani Kumar "as desired by him".

The report was also shared with a senior official each from the Prime Minister's Office and the coal ministry, the CBI director said.

The government has been in turmoil — facing demands for an explanation from the opposition which has stalled Parliament with continuous protests — ever since The Indian Express reported on April 13 that the CBI chief was likely to inform the top court that the status report he submitted to the court in a sealed cover last month had been vetted by Kumar and PMO officials.

CBI officials including Sinha had been summoned by Kumar, who had suggested several amendments in the status report, some of which the agency had incorporated, The Express had reported.

In his two-page affidavit, Sinha said: "In respect of the query raised by this court about sharing of the contents of the status report dated 8th March, 2013 with the political executive, I submit that the draft of the same was shared with Union Minister for Law and Justice, as desired by him prior to its submission before this Court."

"Besides the political executive, it was also shared with one Joint Secretary-level officer each of the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them."

Additional Solicitor General H P Raval, counsel for CBI, had told a bench led by Justice R M Lodha in March that the report had not been shared with any "political persons". The law officer's statement had prompted the court to seek an affidavit from the CBI director endorsing the submission that he had vetted the reports himself, and that the details of the investigation were not being shared.

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