New Delhi: When the Supreme Court was considering action against Ranjit Sinha for allegedly influencing coal scam cases and meeting the accused at his home, it asked the CBI or Central Bureau of Investigation only one question - whether there was any conflict of interest in its officers investigating their former boss.
Not at all, was the response of current CBI director Alok Verma and his predecessor RK Asthana.
Yet the FIR or police case filed yesterday by the CBI against its former chief has raised questions.
Mr Sinha, who headed the CBI in 2012-14, has been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, which refers to a government official misusing his position for a bribe.
But the FIR only refers to the alleged bribe taker, not the bribe giver, and doesn't even include conspiracy charges. The case against Mr Sinha has therefore been considerably weakened, says senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
"I haven't seen the FIR. But yes, if so, then it indeed weakens the case against Ranjit Sinha,'' Mr Bhushan told NDTV.
The CBI is yet to say anything on this; even the standard press release in missing, perhaps keeping in mind the sensitivity of the case.
"This is the first time in the history of such cases in India that the Prevention of Corruption Act has been invoked without the conspiracy charge,'' said officials, pointing out that the FIR calls Ranjit Sinha the sole accused in the case.
NDTV accessed the 205-page report against the former director which looked at the 3,850 entries into the register at his home. The report found that the people he met, like Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda and UPA minister Santosh Bagrodia, got major relief in their cases. He also finalised 13 cases and closed eight of them, which were reopened on the court's orders.
The court agreed that it was "completely inappropriate" for Mr Sinha to have met persons accused in the coal block allocation case without the investigating officer, the FIR said.