In fresh trouble for former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, the Supreme Court today constituted a Special Investigation Team to probe the allegations of "abuse of authority" prima facie committed by him to scuttle investigation and enquiries in coal block allocation cases.
A bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, observed that a prima facie case has "definitely" been made out for probe into the abuse of authority by Sinha.
The apex court said the present CBI Director would head the special investigation team (SIT) which would look into the report of the apex court-appointed panel headed by M L Sharma, a former Special Director of the agency, that had prima facie indicted Sinha in the matter.
"We have considered the issue whether an outside body of investigators should be appointed as the Special Investigating Team," the bench said in its four-page order.
"However, in our considered opinion, since there has been a change of guard in the CBI, we would continue to repose our faith in the impartiality of the CBI to look into the report prepared by M L Sharma and other relevant documents and conduct an investigation (as an SIT) into the abuse of authority prima facie committed by Ranjit Sinha with a view to scuttle enquiries, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by CBI in coal block allocation cases," it said.
However, the apex court made it clear that it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of allegations levelled by the petitioner or on the contents of the report prepared by the Sharma panel.
"We make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the allegations made by the petitioner or make any comment on the contents of the report prepared by M L Sharma and his team, except to say that a prima facie case has definitely been made out for investigation into the abuse of authority by Ranjit Sinha in terms of the report," it said.
The apex court said the CBI Director may take assistance of two officers of the agency after duly intimating the court and also take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence in respect of the investigations.
The bench said that the special public prosecutor for coal scam cases, senior advocate R S Cheema, would assist CBI Director and his team on legal issues related to the matter.
"The SIT led by the Director, CBI may take the assistance of two officers of the CBI nominated by the Director with due intimation to this Court. The Director, CBI will also take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence in respect of the investigations," it said.