‘It is a sordid saga there are many masters and one parrot’

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the CBI for allowing “the heart of the status report” on the investigation in the coal blocks allocation scam to be changed on suggestions from officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Coal Ministry.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, examining the CBI Director’s affidavit, also criticised Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar for accessing the draft status report. Justice Lodha observed: “we want to know whether the Law Minister can ask the CBI to show details of probe or status report in a case involving people of other ministries and the PMO. Does it not subvert integrity of the investigation if changes are brought in the status report on suggestions of the Law Minister and government officers? Even if administrative superintendence is there for the ministry concerned, investigation must be left alone.”

Referring to the CBI’s affidavit that the Law Minister deleted a finding on non-preparation of broadsheets or charts by the screening committee and a sentence about scope of inquiry on the legality of allocations and two joint secretaries changed the report, Justice Lodha said: “the CBI is like a caged parrot speaking in master’s voice. It is a sordid saga that there are many masters and one parrot. The CBI’s job is not to interact with government officials but to interrogate to find the truth.”

Justice Lodha told Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran, senior counsel Uday Lalit for the CBI and senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina for the Union of India that while making the CBI answerable to the government, “no part of investigation can be touched.”

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