Don’t take final decision in coal cases: SC tells CBI
The Supreme Court asked the CBI not to take any final decision on any case arising out of multi-crore coal scam after serious allegations were levelled against its Director Ranjit Sinha for protecting some accused.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court asked the CBI not to take any final decision on any case arising out of multi-crore coal scam after serious allegations were levelled against its Director Ranjit Sinha for protecting some accused.
A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha also asked the Centre to file assessment report of IT Department on controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi who has come under scrutiny for violation of tax laws. Qureshi allegedly met the top cop at his official residence multiple times.
"Don't take any precipitate action. You wait till the matter is taken up by the bench for next hearing and don't take any final decision on any case," the bench, also comprising Justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, told CBI officials, who were present in the court.
The bench also sought Centre's response through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the allegations levelled against the director.
"We want to know the view of the Union of India on both the issues (plea for recusal of Sinha from Coal matters and Qureshi's income tax matter)," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on Oct 17.
In over one-and-a-half hour court proceedings, on plea against Ranjit Sinha, heated exchange of words were witnessed with top cop's counsel facing the ire of the apex court for virtually stonewalling the hearing by raising objections in loud voice and not allowing petitioner to put forward his arguments against Director.
Justice Lodha, who is known for his mild and cool demeanour, at one stage got so agitated with Sinha's counsel Vikas Singh that he asked him to lower his voice and warned him for "exceeding his limits". "This is not something which I have not witnessed and I hope I will never witness. It is very unfortunate that it is happening in the highest court and that too in the first court (court of CJI). I wonder what happens in other courts," Justice Lodha, who was visibly anguished, said.
"You exceeded all limits. You don't try to teach us. You have crossed the limits thrice. You can't hijack the proceedings of the court," Justice Lodha warned Singh after he continued to interfere in the hearing by not allowing advocate Prashant Bhushan to argue his case on behalf of the NGO, Common Cause.
Singh contended that Bhushan should not be allowed to make allegations against the Director and his arguments are not for the court but for the gallery and urged the court to hold in-camera proceedings.
The bench shot back saying, "you are also playing to the gallery" and refused his plea for in-camera hearing. "We don't believe in in-camera proceedings and it should be done only in exceptional circumstances".
Unlike 2G case before the apex court where the CBI counsel refused to take sides on allegation against the Director, the agency's counsel in coal scam strongly supported Sinha in proceedings saying that charges levelled against him are baseless and scandalous.