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Hand over coal cases to Central Vigilance Comission for scrutiny, Supreme Court tells CBI

Friday, 9 May 2014 - 7:35am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

In a huge blow to the CBI, the Supreme court on Thursday directed the investigating agency to send all files related to the coal block allocation case, in which preliminary inquiry has been done, to the Central Vigilance Comission (CVC).

The CVC, which will scrutinise the documents to see whether the agency has correctly come to the conclusion about the case, was directed by the court to submit its report within four weeks.

A bench, headed by chief justice RM Lodha, declined to accept the CBI's argument that it is violation of law and the trial court is only empowered to examine the conclusion of a case.

The bench, which also had justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said in an order that "two central vigillance commissioners" will examine the files and send the report to court.

Also, the bench restrained the CBI from filing any closure report till further orders and posted the matter for July.

Opposing vehemently the suggestion that all cases related to coal block should be verified by the CVC, as argued by petitioner, NGO Common cause, CBI counsel Amrendra Sharan said all officers will be under pressure of filing the charge sheet. "If they don't file their work is being questioned," he said.

The agency has no objection in sending preliminary enquiry reports but sending files after registration of FIRs will be violative of law as the magistrate has the power to examine it but not the CVC, the senior lawyer said.

The court, however, said: "We are not questioning the integrity of the institution. Your officers are discharging their duties. The case is such that volumnious documents are there. We want fair and impartial investigation."

While talking to dna, the CBI counsel said preliminary enquiries have been completed in about 200 coal cases and 25 have already been sent to the CVC. The CBI has registered 18 FIRs, out of which closure reports have been filed in four and charge sheets filed in two, he said.

Appearing for the NGO, advocate Prashant Bhushan asked why the CBI is hesitating to hand over files to the CVC when the court is monitoing the matter.

The lawyer has already questioned the integrity of some senior officers and alleged that they alter the opinion of the investigating officers.

He has demanded that the court should direct the CBI to either hand over the files to the CVC, which is empowered to supervise the case, or set up a Special Investigating Team to deal with the coal block cases.

The court said: "Like any other professionals, investigators (CBI officers) are also professionals..."

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