New Delhi: CBI Director Ranjit Sinha on Wednesday drew flak from a special court which said that the closure report approved by him in a coal block allocation scam lacked any legally sustainable "reasons or logic".
The court, which ordered further probe in one of the case arising from coal blocks allocation scam, said the vetting of reports by top officers of CBI, including its Director, should be based upon "sound and legally sustainable reasons".
Refusing to accept the closure report, it cautioned the agency that line of distinction between an "inadvertent act or a malafide act" was very thin and the vetting of reports should confirm to well settled principles of law and hoped that no such mistakes shall occur in future.
"I may also mention that since the final reports are vetted by prosecution branch of CBI and thereafter by Director CBI as per the practice being followed, then it is expected that in view of the vast experience of the legal officers of CBI and the senior officers of CBI, including the Director, the vetting of the reports should not only confirm to the well settled principles of law but also to sound and legally sustainable reasons and logic," Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.
The observations came in a case involving Vikash Metals and Power Ltd (VMPL) and its officials in which they were accused of making false claims related to land allocation to get undue advantage in the coal block allocation. The agency, however, had later on filed a closure report saying the allegations against VMPL or its directors or even against the public servants could not be substantiated during the course of investigation.
The court, in its 23-page order, asked CBI to further investigate the case and file a progress report on the probe on November 10. The court also asked the CBI Director and DIGs, who are supervising probe in coal scam cases, to ensure proper training of the officers to hone up their skills for probing the case.
"Director, CBI and DIG, CBI supervising the investigation of the case, shall also ensure that if they find the officers working under them to be lacking in the skills of investigation, they shall ensure proper training and refresher courses for them at CBI Academy so as to hone up their skills of investigation," it said.
Cautioning the CBI's top brass, the judge said, "This court thus hopes that in future no such inadvertent mistakes shall occur for otherwise the line of distinction between an inadvertent act or a malafide act is very thin and difficult to distinguish."
The judge also said that report of further investigation to be filed on November 10 should be detailed and supported by legally admissible reasons. "It is expected that the report of further investigation will be detailed and conclusive in nature duly supported with legally admissible reasons and not a report prepared as per the whims and fancies of the IO as has been done till now," the judge said.
"It is expected that the senior officers of CBI before forwarding the report of further investigation will duly apply their mind to the nature of investigation carried out and the conclusion being arrived at rather than forwarding the report in a mechanical fashion as is seems to have been done till now," the court said.
The judge also noted that he would have taken cognisance of offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy)/420 (cheating) of the IPC against VMPL and its directors or others involved at this stage but the probe about role of Ministry of Coal officers and other public servants in the entire process of allocation of coal block needed to be further carried out.
"Thus keeping in view the aforesaid perfunctory nature of investigation carried out by the IO which apparently seems to have been carried out with a pre-decided objective of filing a closure report, the same cannot be accepted," the court said. Pulling up the IO for not probing crucial aspects of the case, the court said he was "either completely oblivious of the basic nuances of investigation or he deliberately chose not to investigate the case properly with a view to help the company VMPL and its directors or Ministry of Coal officers."
"The case clearly involved huge financial implications not only for the private parties who apparently were all out to get the coal block allotted by whatever means it was possible but also for the country whose valuable natural resources were being siphoned off in a clandestine manner," it said.