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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

Court wants more coal info

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 10, 2013
First Published: 18:17 IST(10/7/2013) | Last Updated: 01:17 IST(11/7/2013)

Coming down hard on the Centre, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked it to give all the documents that the CBI needed to investigate the coal scam and also file a detailed affidavit "justifying" the allocations.

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Reading out from the latest status report submitted by the CBI in the coal block allocation scam, the court expressed displeasure over the coal ministry not cooperating with the agency, which complained it was not getting relevant documents.

"If the documents are available, these should be made available to the CBI," the court said, adding, "It should also reflect in your counter-affidavit."

A three-judge bench headed by justice RM Lodha also asked attorney general GE Vahanvati to file a detailed affidavit justifying 164 allocations.

The direction came after Vahanvati told the court that in all there were 204 allocations, 72 of which were done through government agencies. The government had de-allocated 40 blocks, he said.

The bench, which is hearing two petitions challenging the allotments on the ground of arbitrariness, gave the Centre four weeks to file a detailed affidavit in support of the allocations.

It also gave the CBI time till July 16 to respond to the Centre's affidavit on the steps it proposes to take to give more autonomy to the agency. The court had on May 8 described the CBI as a "caged parrot with many masters". The matter will now be heard on July 17.

Petitioner's counsel Prashant Bhushan proposed that till a law was drawn up, there should not be any need to obtain sanction from the government to prosecute a person in any court-monitored or court-directed probe. The Centre would respond to the proposal by July 17, the AG said.

The court also sought his response to another of Bhushan's plea that the CBI should take the permission of the Central Vigilance Commission, and not the government, to investigate bureaucrats facing corruption charges. The order should remain in place till Parliament cleared the amendments to make the CBI autonomous, Bhushan said.
 
Earlier in the day, additional solicitor general Siddharth Luthra, representing the CBI, recused himself. He is the second CBI counsel to withdraw from the case after senior counsel UU Lalit.


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