Millennium Post

Coal scam cases: SC to consider appointing SPP for ED to conduct money laundering trial

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said it would consider after a week appointing special public prosecutor (SPP) for conducting trials on behalf of Enforcement Directorate in money laundering cases arising out of coal block allocation scam.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant was considering the plea of senior advocate R S Cheema, appointed SPP in 2014 by the top court in the coal scam cases, that he wanted to be relieved as the prosecutor from money laundering cases.

Cheema had said that though he would like to continue as CBI's SPP in the coal scam cases, he would not like to be SPP in money laundering matters as there was shortage of law officers assisting him in such cases.

Initially, the bench decided to appoint lawyer D P Singh as the SPP for the ED, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted later that he wanted time to discuss the appointment of SPP with senior lawyer Cheema who has been dealing with such cases as SPP.

The bench then adjourned the hearing on the plea of Cheema by a week.

The top court on December 9 last year had asked the solicitor general and Cheema to give names of advocates who can be considered for appointment as SPP for prosecution of the ED matters and decided to hear it again in January.

The top court had earlier sought to know from CBI and ED the status of investigation and trial in the coal block allocation scam cases probed by the two agencies.

On November 27, 2018, the top court had asked the SIT to submit the status report on the probe conducted into the charges of "abuse of official position" by Sinha.

The top court had earlier constituted the SIT headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma to look into the prima facie allegations against Sinha for trying to influence the probe in coal scam cases.

It had reiterated its earlier order that officers investigating and supervising the coal scam cases shall not be transferred or removed without prior express permission of the court.

The ED had earlier told the court that provisional attachment orders have been issued in more than dozen cases amounting to Rs 600.7 crore.

On January 15 last year, the SIT had told the apex court that it would examine the bank account details of persons who had visited Sinha's official residence.

The SIT, which filed its status report with regard to the investigation in the matter, said "substantial progress" has been made in the probe and its scope has been widened.

SPP Cheema had told the court that the SIT was trying to trace the number of vehicles which used to come to Sinha's official residence.

The top court had in January last year constituted the SIT headed by the CBI director to look into the prima facie allegations against Sinha.

It was earlier informed that a panel headed by former CBI special director Sharma had held that Sinha's alleged meetings with some high-profile accused in the coal scam prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.

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