New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to make changes to the terms that the court had set out in a prior order on the inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing in the allocation of coal blocks.

The bench headed by justice R.M. Lodha allowed CBI to increase the strength of the investigating team to 36 from 34, agreeing with the agency’s stand that more officials were needed as the scope of the investigation had expanded.
The court also asked CBI to divide the investigation in the chronological order in which coal blocks had been allocated. The investigation covers allocations from 1993 to 2009.
Ravi Kant, who has the rank of a deputy inspector general (DIG) of police, will handle investigations for allocations made in 2006-09.
Kant, who had been handling this prior to a transfer to the Intelligence Bureau, is now back at CBI.
The apex court also allowed CBI to remove members of the investigating team from the inquiry in case of “exceptional circumstances”.
The court also heard the debate over the statutory requirement for government permission before embarking on an investigation of a joint secretary-level official.
The attorney general sought to convince the court that the section should be allowed to continue on the statute books. If the CBI was aggrieved by the central government’s denial of permission, it could always approach the apex court, he said. The government’s decision would be fair as it would be open to judicial review, he said.
This was rejected by the petitioners in the case. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan pointed out that, as per the prior orders of the Supreme Court, the government cannot have a say in this when the investigation is monitored or directed by the apex court. This issue will continue to be heard at the next hearing. The court also said that CBI would only be able to consult lawyers at “stage specific” times in an investigation. This was aimed at ensuring that investigation details are not shared with the government, as ordered by the Supreme Court earlier.
The final hearing into the allocation issue will take place on 10 September.
Courtesy: live mint
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