‘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 allocation’ scam to be changed on the suggestions of officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Coal Ministry.

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

Referring to 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 legality of allocation and the 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. Job of CBI is not to interact with government officials but to interrogate to find the truth.”

Justice Lodha told the 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 CBI answerable to the Government “no part of investigation can be touched.”

The Bench was concerned about three meetings held on March 6; one where the Law Minister vetted the CBI draft report in his office, another with the coal ministry and PMO officials, and a third meeting with Attorney General, the CBI said. The AG told the court that he had neither asked for nor seen the CBI report.

The order said “henceforth the CBI Director shall ensure that no access be provided to any person or authority including the Law Minister, the concerned Minister or any other Central Minister, Law Officers and the Director of Prosecution to the reports to be submitted by it to the court in future There will be no interaction with any person without permission of the Court.”

More In: Today's Paper