Coal scam: SC to examine CBI affidavit today, Law Minister’s fate hangs in the balance


Supreme-Court-on-coal-scamNew Delhi: Amidst reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi are divided over the decision on the fate of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, the Supreme Court will on Wednesday examine the affidavit submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with coal scam.

In a major embarrassment for the government, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha in an affidavit told the Supreme Court on Monday that the Law Minister and senior officials of the PMO and Coal Ministry had made changes in the central agency’s draft status report on coal scam.

Ashwani, who is under attack from the Opposition which is demanding his resignation over the issue, could find himself on a more sticky wicket if adverse remarks are made against him by the apex court on Wednesday.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati may also find it difficult to justify his earlier claim made in the SC that he was not aware about the contents of the status report, a statement belied by the CBI Director’s nine-page affidavit saying that the AG had glanced through the report and changes were made in it on his suggestion.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice RM Lodha, which had pulled up the CBI for keeping it in the dark about the sharing of status report with government, will go through a second affidavit filed by Sinha giving details of the changes made and at whose instance these were done.

Sinha in his affidavit said that the minister made “certain changes” in the agency’s draft probe report on coal scam and gave details of series of meetings with Kumar, Vahanvati, Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval and Shatrughna Singh and AK Bhalla, joint secretaries of the PMO and the Coal Ministry during which changes in the probe reports were suggested and made by them. The CBI version contradicts reports of Ashwani’s account that he was not involved in drafting the changes.

Meanwhile, differences have reportedly cropped up between Manmohan Singh and Sonia with the latter wanting the Prime Minister to address media on all issues plaguing the government, sources say. But Manmohan Singh is not keen to talk to the media on any of the corruption allegations including 2G spectrum scam, Railway Board bribery and Railway Protection Force officers transfer and posting scandal and the coal scam.

Sources said the Prime Minister and the Congress party are not on the same page when it comes to allegations against Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar. Both the ministers are considered close to Manmohan Singh.