Supreme Court names ex-ASG Maninder Singh, advocate Batra SPPs in coal scam cases
The Supreme Court has appointed former Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and advocate Rajesh Batra as special public prosecutors (SPPs) in the trial of coal scam cases filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED).
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has appointed former Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and advocate Rajesh Batra as special public prosecutors (SPPs) in the trial of coal scam cases filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said: "We hereby appoint (i) Maninder Singh, senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General of India; and (ii) Rajesh Batra, advocate as Special Public Prosecutors in the place of R.S. Cheema. R.S. Cheema may get relieved upon the newly appointed prosecutors taking charge."
In 2014, the top court had appointed Cheema as SPP to conduct the prosecution of the offences pertaining to coal block allocation, on behalf of the CBI and the ED. Cheema had sought the court's permission to be relieved citing his age and shortage of law officers assisting him.
The ED had moved an application seeking appropriate directions for the appointment of a new Special Public Prosecutor to conduct prosecution of cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, pertaining to coal block allocation matters. It urged the top court to appoint a new prosecutor.
"Though there was no consensus on the names of individuals, the learned counsel appearing on all sides unanimously agreed that this Court should appoint a seasoned trial court lawyer of impeccable integrity and a designated senior advocate to guide him and conduct the proceedings," the bench noted.
"R.S. Cheema may get relieved upon the newly appointed Prosecutors taking charge. This Court records appreciation for the services rendered by R.S. Cheema," it added.
On April 5, the Supreme Court appointed two judicial officers, Arun Bhardwaj and Sanjay Bansal, as special judges to try coal block allocation scam cases pending since 2014.
Cheema submitted that there are 41 pending cases, therefore two courts could be constituted to try the cases. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court agreed to appoint Bhardwaj and Bansal as special judges to try the cases.
The top court had received a letter from the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court seeking its permission to nominate/post another suitable officer as special judge in place of Bharat Parashar, as the coal block allocation matter is pending for about six years when the law contemplates the disposal of such matters in two years, which may be extended up to 4 times by periods of six months each.