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Don't allow CBI joint director O P Galhotra to handle coal scam cases: Prashant Bhushan

Thursday, 8 May 2014 - 6:35am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

CBI joint director O P Galhotra is related to Congress MP Naveen Jindal, an accused in one of the "illegal" coal block allocation cases. He has conflict of interests and thus should not be allowed to handle coal scam cases, revealed senior advocate Prashant Bhushan before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

"He (Galhotra) has been handling almost all cases in coal block scam and he is instrumental in the closure of several cases by CBI. Fair investigation is not done here," Bhushan, counsel of NGO Common Cause, contended and sought the court to pass an appropriate order for his removal from the case.

Interestingly, CBI counsel appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, admitted that Galhotra is relative of Naveen Jindal and thus has recused himself from handling Jindal case. ``It will be a stigma for him if he (Galhotra) is removed from all other cases," the CBI counsel argued.

Taking note of it, the bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, asked CBI to inform it by Thursday the status of the officer in these cases. "Seek instruction from CBI about the officer and tell us tomorrow," the bench said and deferred the hearing till tomorrow at 3pm.

"Our effort and exercise is to have fair and impartial investigation. Why should anything be done that shatters the public confidence," the bench further said.

Talking to dna, Bhushan said, "In many cases, after the probe when the investigating team sent them to Galhotra with an opinion to file charge-sheet, he over ruled that and Galhotra's decision is approved by the director."

Interestingly, CBI sources said, Galhotra had monitored the questioning of former coal minister Dasari Narayana Rao in connection with the alleged irregularities in allocation of Talabira-II coal block in which Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh are accused. CBI is also probing Rao for alleged criminal charges along with Naveen Jindal's firms.

During the course of hearing CBI counsel submitted that a status report is filed recently in which out of 168 cases against companies, PE is completed in 157 and rest are on the verge of completion. The agency is probing against 101 PSUs (75 state and 26 Central). In addition investigation is completed in 30 out of 43 coal blocks.

The agency had recently closed probe in 22 allocations which the apex court had referred to CVC for re-examination. The companies booked by agency so far include AMR Iron and Steel, JLD Yavatmal Energy, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog, JAS Infrastructure Capital Pvt Ltd, Vikash Metals, Grace Industries, Gagan Sponge, Jindal Steel and Power, Rathi Steel and Power Ltd, Jharkhand Ispat, Green Infrastructure, Kamal Sponge, Pushp Steel, Hindalco, BLA Industries, Castron Technologies and Castron Mining and others.

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