New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the top investigating agency CBI to file an affidavit for giving assurance that coal scam probe report is not shared with ‘political executive’. This has come after the CBI informed the Apex Court that no verification of credentials of companies was done for coal block allocation during 2006-09.

The CBI in its probe report also stated that no rationale was given for allocating coal blocks to companies. Centre objected to CBI’s findings.

The court also asked the Centre to explain why small group of companies were "picked and chosen" out of large number of companies who applied for coal block allocation.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha, which went through the report filed in a sealed cover, said that the report prima facie alleges irregularities, but the Attorney General G E Vahanvati aggressively hit back on the finding saying, "CBI is not the final word on this".

Vahanvati, however, clarified that the Government has no problem with CBI probe and pleaded the court to supply him with some part of the probe report on which he would respond. "I am not trying to pre-empt the inquiry. I have no problem with it," the AG said.

The bench said the government should make a statement cautiously as it might affect the ongoing CBI probe in the case. "Any of your comments must not prejudice CBI inquiry in the case. If you are challenging the very conspiracy angle of the controversy, then it would affect the probe," the Apex Court said.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by various members of civil society including former CEC N Gopalaswami, ex-Navy chief L Ramdas and former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian and advocate ML Sharma seeking a SIT probe into the coal block allocation scam.

During the hearing, when it was told that the Apex Court appointed central empowered committee can also be involved in the inquiry, the bench said it was not going into individual cases, as it was not required. "We are not on individual case broadly. It has to be seen that whether guidelines were followed or not. The entire allocation goes if no procedure was followed," the bench observed.

The bench also observed that procedure followed prima facie does not seem to be proper legal procedure. "Therefore, I just want to know whether the entire factual position has been stated (in government's affidavit) or something more is to be said," the court said.

On January 24, the Apex Court had questioned the Centre's power to allocate coal blocks to companies, saying it has a lot of "legal explanation" to do as the statutory Act empowers only the states to undertake this task. The court had said that the Centre cannot undermine the Mines and Minerals Act which has given no power to it to allocate coal block to companies. The court's remarks came after the CBI had informed it that investigations into the coal block allocations have established irregularities by government authorities in allocation of the natural resources and around 300 companies are under its scanner.

In an affidavit filed before the Apex Court, the CBI had said that it is taking up the probe against each and every company which has been allocated coal block since 1993 and "in particular during the period 2006 to 2008." The agency had also placed before the Apex Court a list of the companies and their directors against whom FIR has so far been lodged.

The agency had said that it is not revealing all information of its probe in order to "preserve the confidentiality and integrity of the inquiry".


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