The Supreme Court asked CBI director Ranjit Sinha on Tuesday to respond to allegations by an activist organisation that he was protecting people linked with the coal allocation scam, a major setback for the top investigator already facing similar charges in the 2G case.
Two NGOS – Common Cause and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation – allege that Sinha is getting in the way of investigations in high-profile corruption cases involving the alleged abuse in the way telecommunications bandwidth and coal mines were allocated.
They also allege the CBI chief met at his residence several executives from companies being investigated and was being influenced to weaken the cases against them.
Common Cause asked the court to set up a special investigation team (SIT) for a conflict of interest inquiry against Sinha if he failed to respond satisfactorily to the charges.
The bench headed by chief justice RM Lodha did not ask Sinha to step away from the coal scam probe, as demanded by Common Cause, and gave him until September 19 to offer an explanation.
Sinha last week ruled out resigning, but said he would recuse himself from the coal scam probe if the SC asked him to do so.
The NGO says Sinha met Congress leader and coal scam accused Vijay Darda at the CBI director’s residence when the investigating agency was probing the politician. “Certain developments have taken place and there are serious allegations in the application. Our concern is regarding the investigation in this matter. You must respond to it,” the court told Sinha’s lawyer.
On Monday, a bench headed by justice HL Dattu monitoring the 2G scam case sought a clarification from Sinha on allegations against him of entertaining people being investigated at his official residence in New Delhi.
Minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh refused to spell out if the Modi government was planning to act against Sinha. “I do not want to say anything at this time... The government will take a view as and when required,” he said.