Coal scam: SC agrees with ex-CBI chief's plea that he should be heard first

October 05, 2015 08:53 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 09:52 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed with former CBI director Ranjit Sinha's plea that he should be given an opportunity to be heard before any decision is taken on handing over the original visitors' logbook to former CBI Special Director M.L. Sharma.

Mr. Sharma had sought the logbook to aid his enquiry into Mr. Sinha's alleged frequent meetings with prominent accused in the coal scam cases.

The Coal Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur had recently referred the request to the 2G Spectrum Bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu. The logbook has till date been kept away from public eye on the orders of the 2G Bench.

The logbook was first produced in court by advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had accessed it through an unknown whistleblower, in connection with the 2G scam.

However, NGO Common Cause, also represented by Mr. Bhushan, had later on approached the Coal Bench saying the same logbook contained names of accused Mr. Sinha allegedly met in connection with the coal block allocation scam cases.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Mr. Sinha, objected to how the Coal Bench had referred the case to the 2G bench without first hearing him. Mr. Singh said he had serious objections to the veracity of the logbook, and he should have been first given an opportunity to respond to Mr. Sharma's request for the original book.

“M.L. Sharma's letter should have been made known to me. I should have been heard first in the issue. I have serious objections,” Mr. Singh submitted for the former CBI chief.

When Mr. Bhushan objected to Mr. Singh, Chief Justice Dattu favoured Mr. Singh's submission and observed that “heavens will not fall if he is heard first”.

The bench then scheduled a special hearing by the Coal Bench on October 8 to give Mr. Sinha an opportunity to present his objections.

Mr. Sharma's team conducting the enquiry against Mr. Sinha has been given considerable powers, including power to summon any person and access necessary documents in connection with their work.

On May 14, the apex court had said an inquiry is “necessary” against former CBI director Sinha over his “completely inappropriate” meetings with coal scam accused at his residence here, holding investigation must not only be fair but appear to be conducted in fair manner.

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