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Spl court questions CBI’s competence in coalgate probe

Spl court questions CBI’s competence in coalgate probe
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CBI was on Wednesday grilled by a special court which even questioned its “competence” in a coal blocks allocation scam case after the investigating officer (IO) said that he was unable to devote time as his “senior officers are insisting” that he complete investigation in other cases.

The scathing observations by the court came during the hearing of a coalscam case pertaining to allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to accused firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).

The court was infuriated after the counsel appearing for various accused, including former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, moved applications that the case records supplied to them by the CBI were “insufficient and illegible”.

At this juncture, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar asked IO Vijai Chettiar as why he has not complied with the court’s order of supplying documents required by the accused.

Responding to this, the IO said he was busy in a number of other cases and his senior officers were insisting that he complete the probe in those cases as well.

“This is a strange kind of submission made by the IO. When one charge sheet has already been filed in the court then it is the duty of the prosecution, duly supported by the investigating agency, to present and pursue the case in right earnest and it does not lie in the mouth of the IO to say that being busy in some other matter he could not devote time in the present case,” the judge said.

“Either I conclude that you (IO) are incompetent or you are not rendering any help to the prosecution or your agency is incompetent,” the judge observed.

During the hearing, which commenced at 10 am, the court directed the IO to supply all the necessary documents required by the defence counsel on Wednesday itself and adjourned the matter for 2 pm.
As the hearing resumed at 2 pm, the judge himself saw the documents supplied to the defence counsel and found that some of the records were illegible or some portion was cut in the photocopies.

The court observed that its function is to conduct a free and fair trial and the role of prosecution is to assist in trial while the role of the investigating agency is to render help to the prosecution.

The court, in its order, directed the CBI’s DIG and SP concerned “to ensure that the IO Inspector Vijai Chettiar devotes proper time to the present matter also.”

The court, however, clarified that its “direction should not be understood as stating that he (IO) should be divested of all other duties as it is the bounden duty of IO to properly pursue the present matter also lest this court is again faced with the situation where IO expresses his inability to do proper “Pairvi” (presentation) of the case.”

Apart from VISUL and Koda, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu, former coal secretary H C Gupta, public servants Bipin Bihari Singh and Basant Kumar Bhattacharya, Kolkata-based VISUL’s Director Vaibhav Tulsyan, chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan and Koda’s alleged close aide Vijay Joshi are accused in the case. These eight individual accused were granted bail on February 28 by the court.

During the hearing, the defence counsel submitted that in pursuance to the court’s earlier order, they had contacted the IO on phone or through e-mail for the documents but he did not respond to it.
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