New Delhi: A special court today granted time to CBI for filing the final report in a coal block allocation scam case against Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal, ex-Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao and others, in a proper format.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar allowed the investigating officer's plea seeking time on the ground that he has finalised the report, forwarded it to senior authorities and awaiting approval.
The court directed the CBI officer to file the final report on February 6, the next date of hearing. The court had earlier rapped the CBI for not filing the final report in a proper format.
Later, the court had accepted the final report noting that sufficient time has already lapsed in the matter and asked the agency to file the documents in a "proper format" by today.
While filing the report, which contains CFSL report, list of documents, list of witnesses and their statements, the agency had told the court that the probe was complete in the case.
The court had earlier pulled up the CBI for delay in filing the report, saying it was affecting the progress of trial.
CBI had alleged that former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, also accused in the case, had favoured Jindal group firms -- Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Private Ltd (GSIPL) -- in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand.
Opposing CBI's contention, all the accused had said there was no evidence to show that there was any conspiracy during the coal block allocation process. They had also denied the allegations levelled against them by CBI in its charge sheet.
The bench said "Since the Director, CBI will undoubtedly require the assistance of somebody well conversant with the law, we request RS Cheema, who is already a special public prosecutor in coal block allocation cases, to assist the Director, CBI and his team on legal issues".
The Supreme Court also said the CBI Director would indicate on the next date of hearing about the composition of his team and the time required to complete the investigation.
"We need hardly emphasise that the matter is of considerable public importance and should be taken up with due earnestness by the Director, CBI," it said.
While referring to its May 14, 2015 order, the bench noted "we had held that it was completely inappropriate for Ranjit Sinha (then Director of the CBI) to have met persons accused in the coal block allocation cases without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present."
"We were also of opinion that in view of this, it would be necessary to enquire whether any one or more such meetings that Mr Sinha had with the accused persons had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI," the bench noted in the order.
During the pendency of proceedings, the court had also appointed a committee headed by ML Sharma and former central information commissioner to look into the allegations and Mr Sharma had submitted a report on March 4 last year, it said.
The court had on July 12 last year reserved the order on the issue after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the panel headed by Mr Sharma has held that Mr Sinha's meetings with some high-profile accused in the case, prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the probe.
Mr Rohtagi, who had only received an initial report of the panel for perusal on condition of confidentiality, had said he had gone through the report which has found that the visitors' diary at Mr Sinha's residence was genuine.
However, he had said the correctness of entries in that diary could only be ascertained in the court through evidence.
The panel was probing the alleged scuttling of probe into coal block allocation scam cases by Mr Sinha, whose meetings with the accused persons were held as "completely inappropriate".
Earlier, the court had given the initial report of the Sharma committee to the Attorney General for his perusal, as the bench wanted his assistance after the panel had sought a direction for supply of documents relating to a preliminary enquiry into some matters in which the probe was closed.
On December 7, 2015, the court had ordered handing over the original visitors' diary of the official residence of the former CBI director to the Sharma-led panel.