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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Coalgate: top govt law officers spar ahead of SC hearing

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 30, 2013
First Published: 00:36 IST(30/4/2013) | Last Updated: 09:01 IST(30/4/2013)

A bitter fight broke out between the two top law officers of the government on the eve of the crucial Supreme Court hearing on the coal block allocations scam on Tuesday, indicating a deep sense of unease in the UPA's legal team.

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Additional solicitor general Harin Raval, who appeared for the CBI on March 12 and told the Supreme Court that the agency was carrying out an independent probe, has written a letter to the government's top law officer, attorney general GE Vahanvati, accusing him of having tried to influence the CBI probe.

Raval is learnt to have said in his letter that he was not willing to be made a scapegoat in the entire matter and Vahanvati was present in the meeting attended by the law minister and CBI director among others on March 5 in which the agency's draft report was allegedly changed.

In his letter, Raval is understood to have narrated how he got an SMS from AG to reach law minister Ashwani Kumar's office with the CBI status report.

The CBI has decided to replace Raval with senior advocate UU Lalit for Tuesday's hearing.

The agency blamed Raval for "overstepping" his brief since he had said in the court that there was no political interference in the CBI's probe in the coal scam.

The Supreme Court had directed CBI director Ranjit Sinha to file an affidavit assuring that he had vetted the status report following Raval's statement.

Contacted for his response, Raval refused to confirm or deny his letter.

"When I was blamed nobody asked me, so why are you asking me now," he told HT.

Vahanvati could not be contacted for his response. Government sources said the spat between two of their senior law officers barely hours before the crucial hearing in the Supreme Court was not a welcome sign.

The court may ask the government to file an affidavit in response to the Sinha's revelation. It will also scrutinise the latest status report that the CBI says has not been shared with anybody in the government.


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