The investigation into the list of accused persons who visited CBI Director Mr. Ranjit Sinha’s residence following Mr. Prashant Bhushan’s petition in the Supreme Court has unearthed facts that merit an additional probe. The additional investigation should focus not on financial corruption but on what political influences dictated coal block allotments. The special investigation should focus on Rajya Sabha Congress MP Mr. Vijay Darda who through family links is closely related to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt. Ltd. owned by Mr. Manoj Jayaswal being investigated by the CBI in the Coalgate scam.
From logbook entries of visitors to the CBI Director’s residence it emerged that Mr. Darda made numerous visits. These visits occurred at the time when the CBI recommended his prosecution for attempting to influence the allotment of coal blocks by writing a letter of recommendation to the Prime Minister in support of the AMR firm. The CBI found financial benefits accruing to the Darda family from AMR. Subsequently after more visits by Mr. Darda to Mr. Sinha’s residence the CBI Director reversed his agency’s decision to prosecute Mr. Darda. The CBI’s senior legal counsel considered the case fit for prosecution. Mr. Sinha did not relent. After that the law advisers reversed their decision and said that no criminal case could be made. After that, wonder of wonders, Mr. Ranjit Sinha again somersaulted to indicate that there was need to prosecute the case which was monitored by the Supreme Court. Does not this remarkable flip flop deserve a special probe to find its cause? Especially in the light of other background related to Mr. Vijay Darda?
Earlier it had been pointed out in these columns that the Government had claimed that over 200 files related to the Coalgate scam were missing. The CBI said that the missing files prevented the agency’s investigation. Among the missing files was one containing Mr. Darda’s letter to the PM recommending coal block allotment to AMR.
It may be noted that the PM although publicly committed to allotment of coal blocks through auction was as the Coal Minister a helpless spectator while these were allotted arbitrarily. It was asked why.
It may also be recalled that in a private function Mr. Jayaswal in the company of Mr. Darda and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary Mr. Ahmed Patel had met with the Congress President at her residence. In her study he presented a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Gandhi which event was photographed and posted on the AMR firm’s website. That photo was reproduced in these columns questioning the circumstances that led the Congress President to host in her private study a Coalgate scam accused. A Special Investigative Team (SIT) should probe the identity of the authority that endorsed the system of coal block allocations resulting in a mega scam. The probe should make public the contents of the letter of recommendation sent by Mr. Darda to the PM and why it mattered. For systemic reform we must record the whole truth.