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Won’t close any coal cases till July 7: CBI to Supreme Court

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday gave an undertaking before the Supreme Court that it would not file any closure report in the coal block allocation scam until it, along with the Enforcement Directorate (ED), files a status report of the probe done till June 30. The apex court has directed the agency to give the report by July 7. The case will be heard in the court of Chief Justice R M Lodha on July 8.

The CBI response came in the face of allegations by Common Cause counsel Prashant Bhushan that cases were being closed indiscriminately, though investigating officers had found good reasons for filing chargesheets. Even First Information Reports (FIRs) are not being filed and the superior officers in CBI are overruling their juniors, was the charge.

CBI, meanwhile, is going to register another case in the scam soon, it is learnt. The agency has so far registered 18 FIRs, of which four have since been closed. The agency filed a closure report in cases against Vikash Metals, Kamal Sponge and Power, against JLD Yavatmal Energy and Jas Infrastructure Capital, for want of substantial evidence.

At the CBI office, a senior official indicated more cases are likely to be closed, as investigation reaches advanced stages; a few would get converted into chargesheets.

The apex court on Thursday accepted four status reports received in sealed covers from CBI and the ED on the investigations that are on. Though the details were not examined in the court, it is learnt 25 cases have been referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for review, and five more files would be sent. All investigations at the preliminary enquiry stage will also be referred to CVC.

CBI Joint Director O P Galhotra was relieved from the court when it stated that since he had recused himself from inquiring into the Jindal companies, nothing more needs to be said about the allegation of a conflict of interest. Bhushan had alleged at Wednesday’s hearing that this officer was overruling several findings of the investigating officers and he had a conflict of interest in the investigation.

The court said since Galhotra’s recusal had been accepted by the CBI director, nothing adverse shall be considered against him.

The CBI counsel assailed Bhushan’s allegations that the agency had done nothing in the past two years except filing a few FIRs.

Amarendra Saran, the counsel,  said the investigations had been done by professionals and the exercise was still on. He reiterated his argument that allowing the CVC to review the investigation will amount to transfer of the powers of magistrates to CVC. It was the court which had to decide whether there was a case to prosecute, not CVC.

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