Facing heat over reports suggesting that its status report on the coal block allocation probe was vetted by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the CBI on Saturday said that it is “yet to submit” its affidavit to the Supreme Court on the question whether the report was diluted or overseen by the executive.
Talking to Express, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, who’s currently in the eye of the storm, said: “I will say whatever needs to be said (on the coal block allocation investigation report) to the court after the affidavit has been submitted. The affidavit has to be filed by April 26. Without getting into the merits of the media reports, Sinha also said that he and the agency “will be abiding by the court’s direction”. The allegation that the agency can take the court for a ride “is preposterous,” he added.
The CAG report, tabled in the Monsoon Session of Parliament in 2012, had stated that the government allotted coal blocks to private firms without any proper tendering process, resulting in a whopping loss of `1.85 lakh crore to the exchequer.
After the initial furor, the coal-gate scam had been lying dormant for a while. But the fresh media report alleging that the Law Minister and PMO officials interfered with the contents of the status report and even prevailed upon the CBI to dilute portions of it brought it back into the limelight.
While the PMO and Law Minister refused to react to the allegations on the ground that the matter was “sub-judice”, Minister of State V Narayanasamy quite pointedly said that he had “no idea” as it is only Ashwani Kumar who could either confirm or deny it.
Murmurs about Kumar’s “mishandling of the Law Ministry” has been floating around for a while now, he is also being blamed by the Congress Party for the reopening of the 1982 anti-Sikh riots case against Jagdish Tytler.
The coal-gate scandal could be quite damaging for the Prime Minister as the Coal Ministry was directly under his charge from July 2004 to May 2009 and is now under the scanner.