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Glare on coal probe delay

New Delhi, July 8: The Supreme Court today rapped the CBI for the delay in the coal block allocation probe and said it would appoint a special public prosecutor to guide the course of the investigation.

The plan is similar to the court-monitored 2G probe in which senior counsel U.U. Lalit had been named special public prosecutor.

Today, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Madan B. Lokur and Kurien Joseph expressed displeasure that the coal probe, to be wrapped up by the end of 2013, was not over yet.

“We will appoint a special public prosecutor to examine the matter. That course is available to us. Part of the investigation needs to be looked after by some objective person,” Chief Justice Lodha told senior CBI counsel Amarender Saran.

The court made the observation as it adjourned till July 17 the hearing in the case and restrained the CBI from filing closure reports in some of the cases. The agency had claimed lack of evidence of criminality in six to eight cases.

“The matter needs to be examined, in the meantime do not file the closure report,” the court observed, reiterating an order of May 8 against filing of such closure reports. On that occasion, the court had also directed two commissioners in the office of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to examine the CBI’s reports in the cases.

The vigilance commissioners had scrutinised the inquiry reports and submitted their findings to the court.

Today, the bench did not pass any orders on the report by the CVC officials, choosing to instead express displeasure over the delay by the CBI in the probe.

“We had given you time till December 2013 but you have not completed the investigation,” the bench told Saran, the CBI’s counsel.

The lawyer said the investigations were taking time as the agency had to examine various documents, question several officers who had retired and claimed it was taking time to track their present whereabouts.

The court also asked the CBI to ensure that none of the senior IPS officers in the team supervising the investigation is repatriated to the parent cadre without completing the task.

V. Murgesan, one of the three DIGs supervising the probe, had sought repatriation to his parent cadre Uttarakhand on the ground that he had completed his tenure of deputation with the agency.

“You (Murgesan) have not completed the required task. You have applied for repatriation. How can it be? First this task has to be completed. All three of you (the DIGs) had assured that the investigation will be complete by 2013,” the bench said, turning down his plea.