In an unprecedented order, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered CBI director Ranjit Sinha to completely keep off the 2G case as it found prima facie “credible” the charges that he had attempted to help the accused in the spectrum scam, as well as delay prosecution in the Aircel-Maxis case which involves former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran.
“We direct the CBI director not to interfere in the 2G-scam investigation or prosecution. He will recuse himself from the case. The investigation team constituted in the CBI to probe this case will take over the handling of the case in place of Ranjit Sinha,” the court said.
A bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Madan B Lokur and AK Sikri refrained from spelling out the reasons for its extraordinary decision which rendered Sinha’s tenure as head of the investigating agency ignominious.
“To protect the fair name of the CBI and to protect the reputation of the CBI director, we are not giving elaborate reasons. Suffice it for us to observe that information furnished by the applicant (CPIL) appears to be prima facie credible. So, it needs to be accepted. We reiterate that we are not giving elaborate reasons as the CBI has its own reputation and we don’t intend to tarnish it,” the bench said.
SC-appointed special public prosecutor Anand Grover, who on court orders examined the evidence on Sinha’s alleged misdeeds in the 2G-scam case, held that the evidence provided by the petitioner was credible. Grover slammed the CBI director’s conduct and, in fact, said he could even face criminal contempt for attempting to obstruct administration of justice in the 2G-scam case.
The bench emphatically rejected the defence of Sinha’s counsel Vikas Singh that the CBI chief had done no wrong. “He is the head of the CBI. He should have the independence to take administrative decisions. All decisions taken were within the four corners of law and CBI manual,” Singh said.
The order, just days before Sinha’s retirement, will ensure that he leaves on an embarrassing note, perhaps keeping with the trajectory of a tenure which saw the court coming down hard on him for getting the ‘Coalgate’ probe report vetted by the UPA government before submitting it to court. The episode saw the court likening the agency to a “caged parrot”.