New Delhi: Reacting promptly on the affidavit submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) before the Supreme Court in connection with the coal scam on Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar "should resign right away". "The government has lost the moral ground to continue in power," said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, adding the affidavit has proved that all the allegations his party made against the PM and the Law Minister were true.
The CBI, in a fresh affidavit submitted on Monday, has told the apex court that the Law Minister, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, one Joint Secretary rank official each from the Prime Minister's Office and the Coal Ministry not only saw the draft status report on the coal scam case, but also ordered some changes in it.
Meanwhile, senior lawyer and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Prashant Bhushan demanded that the computers of all the concerned CBI officials should be sent for forensic examination. The investigating agency's director has claimed in the affidavit that he cannot recall all the changes which were made in the draft of the status report prepared by the CBI in the scam.
Bhushan also said the affidavit has proved that the Attorney General and Additional Attorney General had earlier lied to the Supreme Court. He added that it was a "gross contempt of court".
The Congress, however, has chosen to remain silent on the development. Speaking to the media outside Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, "I will not like to comment on a matter which is sub judice in court." External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, however, said the government will accept the Supreme Court's verdict. "SC will tell us what were the our limits in this particular case," he said.
What has the CBI told the Supreme Court in the affidavit
The nine-page affidavit submitted by the CBI gives details of the March 6 meeting that took place with Ashwani Kumar, Vahanvati, Joint Secretary in the PMO Shatrughna Singh, AK Bhalla of the Coal Ministry and Joint Director of the CBI OP Galhotra. Former Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval was also present in the meeting, said CBI. The affidavit says a series of three meetings were held between the CBI and government officials at the A-G's office, the Law Minister's office and at the CBI headquarters.
The CBI has also detailed how the changes were made. According to the CBI affidavit two changes were made in the report - one at the instance of the Law Minister and the other at the instance of the PMO and Coal Ministry. The affidavit says that a paragraph critical of the PMO was changed.
However, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha also claimed that only the draft status report was shared with the political executive and the Attorney General and not the final status report. Sinha in the affidavit also said that consequent changes in the report have neither altered its central theme nor shifted the focus of inquiries in any manner.
According to the CBI affidavit no names of suspects or accused were removed from the status report and no suspect or accused was let off. The CBI also told the Supreme Court that it was difficult at this stage to attribute each changes made in the report to a particular person with certainty.
The CBI also said that there is nothing in the investigation agency's manual that states whether the status of a case can be shared or not. The CBI said it does not think it did anything wrong but the agency Director Ranjit Sinha extended his 'unconditional apology to the court for inadvertent omission on his part'.
The Supreme Court will give its decision in the case on May 8. "We will respect what the SC says on this after studying this," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.
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