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Coal case leeway for CBI

New Delhi, Feb. 10: The Supreme Court today allowed the CBI to probe the coal-block allocation controversy without prior sanction from the states whose public-sector undertakings are under the scanner for their role.

It directed the agency to complete its probe by April 30 and the file its chargesheet.

The bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurien Joseph brushed aside the plea from some of the states’ counsel that the states’ prior sanction was necessary under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE), under which the CBI functions.

“The prior sanction as required under Section 6A of the DSPE Act is dispensed with,” Justice Lodha, who headed the bench, said in the order.

Referring to the states’ plea that no such order can be passed, Justice Lodha said that the plenary powers of the apex court cannot be denuded by such statutory provision.

It cited how a five-judge Constitution bench had laid down in 2010 that the CBI need not seek the states’ sanction for probes monitored or directed by the courts.

The question of the states’ sanction arose today when CBI counsel Amrender Sharan told the court that while sanction had been obtained in relation to all the central public-sector companies concerned, the agency was awaiting sanctions to probe 18 state PSUs.