After being pulled up for its slow pace in probing the coal block allocation scam, the CBI wants to expand its investigating team.
Appearing before a special bench headed by justice RM Lodha, CBI counsel and senior advocate Amarender Sharan said the agency would move a request before the court to add more officers to its existing team.
The bench said it would consider CBI's plea on September 10 when the court will resume hearing the parties on the whether sanction to prosecute joint secretary and above level officers was required in a court-monitored case.
At present, a 33-member team is inquiring into the coalgate scam. As per an earlier SC order, the CBI cannot make any changes in the team without the court's permission.
Earlier, petitioner ML Sharma, alleged the CBI had not questioned the prime minister who was holding the coal portfolio between 2006 and 2009, when the allocations – now under CBI - scanner were made.
Sharma further said even the present coal minister was not being probed in the allocation scam and that the investigation was confined only to allottees.
"How can an inquiry not be done against coal ministers but only against coal allottees," he said adding the attorney general must assure the court that past and present coal ministers would co-operate with the CBI probe.
He said if names of the coal minister are not mentioned in the FIR, the probe would become infructuous.
"Has CBI closed the probe? It is still going on," the bench told Sharma.
Meanwhile, CBI strongly opposed the UPA government's stand to justify the legal provision that mandates the agency to seek sanction before investigating and prosecuting joint secretary and above level officers even in a court-monitored probe.
Sharan said it was "blasphemous" on the government's part to even contend that a CBI probe under court's supervision would be malicious or vexatious.
"The fact that a constitutional authority such as the Supreme Court or high court is monitoring a probe would keep the agency on guard. If any joint secretary level officer has to be interrogated, the court would be apprised about the move. Where is the question of being frivolous, as suggested by the attorney general?" he asked.