Coal scam: Senior advocate RS Cheema in SC seeks relieving from ED cases due to shortage of law officers

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, told the bench that he will talk to Cheema and would try to persuade him.

Published: 27th September 2019 08:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2019 08:12 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India (File Photo)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Senior advocate R S Cheema, who was appointed special public prosecutor in 2014 by the Supreme Court in the coal block allocation scam cases, on Friday expressed his willingness to be relieved from the money laundering cases arising out of the matter.

Cheema, in his application to the top court, said there is a shortage of law officers assisting him in dealing with such money laundering cases.

A bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant refused to pass any order on Cheema's application and said, "You have done a great service to the nation and our view is that you will be provided all required assistance.

You make a team, train them and after two-three months, we will see if they can take over."

It said, "At this stage, we are not willing to accept your request of being relieved from the money laundering cases and all we are saying, we will not pass any orders. We will hear the matter again in the month of December. "

Cheema said there are 20 complaints filed in the special court by the Enforcement Directorate and cognizance has been taken only in four complaints.

He said the shortage of law officers is affecting the speedy disposal of the matters.

In his application, Cheema had also referred to his age, saying it has been causing difficulties in carrying out his work.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, told the bench that he will talk to Cheema and would try to persuade him.

He said Cheema will be provided all required assistance in the cases.

At the outset, the bench allowed the application of the CBI and the ED seeking permission to release or repatriate certain officers investigating and supervising the coal block allocation scam cases.

It said that investigating officers of the coal scam cases shall not be released in order to maintain continuity but the supervising officers, who have completed there deputation tenure, can be released.

The top court, however, said that the supervising officers, who are to be released or repatriated shall be replaced by the officers of the same rank.

With regard to two officers of ED, who have sought repatriation on the ground of personal reasons, the court allowed the competent authority to look into their request.

The top court had on September 17, said it would take a practical view on repatriation of officers, involved in the investigation of coal scam cases, to their parent departments in a manner that the investigation does not get stalled.

The court had sought the assistance of Cheema, in the matter.

The ED had contended that there are certain officers on deputation, who have been posted in the agency for a very long time and now need to go back to their parent state cadre.

It had said there are some officers, who have completed the investigation, and charge sheets have also been filed in such cases.

On November 27 last year, the top court had ordered that officers investigating and supervising the coal scam cases shall not be transferred or removed without prior permission of the court.

It had asked the SIT to submit the status report on the probe conducted into the charges of "abuse of official position" by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Ranjit Sinha.

The top court had earlier constituted the SIT headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma to look into the prima facie allegations against Sinha for trying to influence the probe in coal scam cases.

The ED had earlier told the court that provisional attachment orders have been issued in more than dozen cases amounting to Rs 600.7 crore.

On January 15 last year, the SIT had told the apex court that it would examine the bank account details of persons who had visited Sinha's official residence.

The SIT, which filed its status report with regard to the investigation in the matter, said "substantial progress" has been made in the probe and its scope has been widened.

SPP Cheema had told the court that the SIT was trying to trace the number of vehicles which used to come to Sinha's official residence.

The top court was earlier informed that a panel headed by former CBI special director Sharma had held that Sinha's alleged meetings with some high-profile accused in the coal scam prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.

On December 7, 2015, the court had ordered handing over the original visitors' diary of Sinha's official residence to the Sharma-led panel.

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