iconimg Friday, August 28, 2015

Abhishek Sharan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 30, 2014
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Ranjit Sinha, who decided against registering FIR in 20 out of the over 250 coal block allocations under scanner, says the agency welcomes the assessment of an external agency — Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) — on its probe’s findings.

Sinha took the decision on grounds that the agency’s probe found no apparent “criminality or criminal intent” (mens rea) in the 20 allocations and gave a “detailed reasoning” on the files, said a senior CBI official. The CBI’s 20 files — one each for the allocations — may be handed to the CVC for scrutiny on Monday as per Supreme Court’s direction on Friday. The court had directed the agency to hand over the files within five days.

On being contacted, Sinha told HT, “The decision to not lodge cases in the 20 coal block allocations was taken as no criminality was found. We respect the court’s order and welcome an external agency’s assessment on our probe that is professional and transparent.”

The SC had on Friday sought the CVC’s assistance to scrutinise the CBI’s decision on the 20 coal block allocations in the wake of divergent views between the agency’s officer supervising the coal scam probe and his senior officials including Sinha on whether cases should be registered. CVC has to file its report to the SC in a sealed cover in four weeks.

Referring to the divergence in views, the official said, “Divergence of views is not unusual for an agency like CBI, which conducts its probes in a professional and scientific manner relying on robust, admissible evidence.” The official said, “Even in cases where a mistake may have occurred, but without any criminal intent, we have to make a distinction.”

“In order to term the CBI decision on the 20 allocations as incorrect, the agency that scrutinises them would have to come up with concrete grounds as well,” he said.

The agency has so far filed 18 FIRs, two of which were recently closed, as part of its coal scam investigation. It has so far filed two charge sheets against two firms that allegedly misrepresented to bag coal block allocations.