The CBI Director claimed in the Supreme Court on Monday that it did not occur to the agency to bring it to the notice of the court that the draft status report had been shared with the Law Minister and officials in the PMO and Coal Ministry as there was no specific direction to this effect.
In his affidavit, the Director said: “It was our honest and bona fide belief that there was no specific direction on this issue by the court.” It claimed that the Attorney General saw PE 2 and PE4 (preliminary enquiries dealing with coal allocations between 1993 and 2005). Coal and PMO officials also went through them and suggested some amendments. The affidavit, however, backed the Attorney General saying “the AG neither asked for nor was given a copy of the final status reports” but admitted he made “minor changes” in status report of PE2.
The CBI Director admitted that the issue of status report was first discussed with the Law Minister in the first week of February, when a meeting was held in the Minister’s chamber. It clarified that this meeting was not called at the request of the CBI.
During the March 6 meeting with the Law Minister, the AG was also present. The AG glanced through the portions of the status reports of PE2 and PE4 and he made certain observations which were explained to him.
On the court’s query whether or not the CBI Manual empowered the CBI to share the status reports with the Law Minister, the CBI Director said: “There is nothing in the CBI (Crime) Manual to guide whether status reports in respect of on-going investigation in a sub judice matter were to be shared with others. The departmental circulars and government instructions are also silent on this point. In our institutional memory too, no such general guidelines could be located,” it said.
On the court’s query whether the status reports were shown to any one other than those mentioned in the affidavit, such as the Law Minister and the officials in the PMO and the Coal Ministry, the affidavit said that the draft report was not shown to others. “Sharing of status reports (with Law Minister and officials in PMO and Coal Ministry) and the consequent changes therein have neither altered the central theme of the report nor shifted the focus of enquiries or investigations in any manner. No names of suspect or accused were removed from the status reports and also that no suspect or accused were let off in the process.”
While sharing the details of the officers investigating the case (in a sealed cover), the CBI Director extended unconditional apology for any inadvertent omission or commission on his part and assured the court that enquiries and investigations were being conducted independently by a team of officers with utmost sincerity and professionalism and would continue with the same zeal and purpose.