Coal scam: CBI files corruption case against its former director Ranjit Sinha

The CBI on Tuesday filed FIR against its former director Ranjit Sinha in a corruption case. Sinha is accused of influencing the probe into the coal block allocation scam during his tenure as agency's director, ANI reported.

Top sources in the probe agency told Hindustan Times that the court order to probe Sinha arrived at the agency’s headquarters in the last week of March following which a joint director level officer of the CBI and an SP with the CBI were tasked to form a special investigation team (SIT).

 Coal scam: CBI files corruption case against its former director Ranjit Sinha

Ranjit Sinha. AFP

The Times of India reported that the CBI filed the FIR against Sinha under sections — 13 (2), which deals with "criminal misconduct" and section 13 (1) (d), pertaining to abusing official position while holding a public office and indulging in corruption, of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

If convicted, Sinha may face maximum seven years imprisonment in the case, the report said.

The Supreme Court had on 23 January 2017, directed CBI Director-designate Alok Verma to probe allegations of "prima facie abuse of authority" by the agency's former director Ranjit Sinha.

The apex court order had asked the CBI to "...conduct an investigation (as a special investigating team - SIT) into the abuse of authority prima facie committed by Sinha with a view to scuttle inquiries, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in the coal block allocation cases".

Sinha had met the accused and others in the coal scam cases, which were being investigated by the probe agency when he was heading it.

The court order came after former CBI special director ML Sharma submitted his report on allegations of abuse of authority by Sinha. Sharma was asked by the top court to hold an inquiry into the meetings that the former CBI director had with the accused and others in coal scam cases.

Directing investigation into the abuse of authority by Sinha, the court recalled its 14 May 2015 order wherein it had said that "it was completely inappropriate for Sinha to have met persons accused in the coal block allocation cases without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present". The top court had also asked Sharma to inquire into the conduct of Sinha in the 14 May 2015 order.

India Today reported that the coal allocation scam, or "Coalgate" had engulfed the UPA government in 2012 after the CAG accused the government of allocating 194 coal blocks to in a flawed manner between 2004 and 2009.

This is only the second time that a former CBI director, facing criminal allegations, will be probed by the agency.

Earlier in February, CBI carried out searches at the residence of its former chief Amar Pratap Singh after registering FIR against him for allegedly favouring controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi. A case was registered against Singh, Qureshi, his employee Aditya Sharma, owner of Trimax group of companies Pradeep Koneru and other unknown persons.

According to reports, the agency had conducted searches in four cities — New Delhi, Ghaziabad, Chennai and Hyderabad. Qureshi has been accused of accepting money from several people for securing favours from public servants. The FIR was lodged on a complaint from the Enforcement Directorate, the country's anti-money laundering probe agency.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2017 20:16:52 IST