New Delhi, March 12: Supreme Court today sought an assurance from CBI that its ongoing probe details on illegal coal allocation by the Centre causing an estimated Rs 1.8 lakh crore loss to the exchequer was not being shared with the “political executive”.
Indicating that it might quash the entire allocation if there were illegalities in the allotment, the apex court directed the CBI director to file an affidavit within a week to give an assurance that the “probe details are being vetted by him personally” and that the report is “not being shared with the political executive.”
The allocations mainly pertained to 2004-2010, though the CBI is probing into allocations made since 1993.
The court also asked the Union government to file an additional counter affidavit along with the second status report of the ongoing CBI investigation within three weeks and posted the matter for further hearing to April 30.
“If we broadly find no procedure is followed, the entire allocation goes,” a three-judge bench told attorney general G.E. Vahanvati during the hearing.
The court’s warning comes in the backdrop of the 154 2G licenses cancelled by the apex court on February 2 last year after it was found that there was large-scale irregularities causing a presumptive loss of Rs 1.75 lakh crore as stated by the CAG report.
The bench of justices R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameshwar and Madan B Lokur brushed aside the argument of the attorney general that entertaining the PIL was not proper as every policy decisions were being challenged these day in courts.
When the AG said “we can’t go back to the stone-age, every policy of the government is being challenged in the court these days,” Justice Lodha retorted, “In a democracy such things happen. Your policy must be strong like a rock. Therefore, don’t crib.”
The PILs have been filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma and NGO Common Cause seeking quashing of the allocation and punishment to those involved in the alleged scandal.
The petitioners prayed for a thorough court monitored investigation through a special investigation team (SIT) to unearth the full magnitude of the coal scam, which according to them, not only involves the ministry of coal but also the PMO (in charge of coal for a period from 2004 to 2009), ministry of steel, ministry of power and governments of various states where the coal blocks were located.
The bench today said that since the CBI was probing the criminality angle, the court was primarily concerned with the legality and validity of the coal block allocation, even if it was given under some statutory powers.
“Even if we assume Centre is competent to allocate, the report filed by CBI seems to suggest that there is no uniform patter/policy,” the bench said.
“The CBI is not the final word,” the attorney general said.