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Ex-CBI chief Ranjit Sinha 'admits' to meeting coal scam links but denies influencing…

Former CBI director Ranjit Sinha told an inquiry panel that he had met people linked to coal scam cases at his residence, but rejected the charge that he influenced the probe which had ended in the closure of many cases.

This, he told a panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma which “examined” him before submitting its report on his conduct to the Supreme Court, sources said.

The apex court had six months back asked the Sharma-led panel to conduct an inquiry after lawyer Prashant Bhushan submitted a diary of visitors to Sinha’s official residence, alleging that he had compromised probes by the agency into the coal block allocation scam, by meeting the accused at his residence.

The top court, in an unprecedented order earlier this week, asked the CBI to conduct an investigation against its former chief observing that prima facie a case is made out to further probe the matter.

Sinha, who retired as CBI director in November 2014 after a two-year tenure, has maintained silence on the matter. When contacted by HT, he refused to comment on the probe panel report.

“Sharma panel asked Sinha about the reasons for holding meetings with people connected with cases registered by the CBI. He confirmed the meetings but denied the allegation that he influenced probes in the cases,” said a source in the investigation agency.

The Sharma panel indicted the former CBI chief in its report, linking his meetings with the closure of cases, sources said.

It examined 14 cases registered by the CBI in connection with the coal scam, probe in which was concluded during Sinha’s tenure as the CBI chief.

The scam involved alleged corruption in the allocation of coal blocks, the loss of which was pegged at Rs 1.86 lakh crore by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in 2012.

On a complaint by the Central Vigilance Commission, CBI had registered three Preliminary Enquiries (PEs) and looked into around 350 coal block allocations, but found only 50 cases fit for registration of FIR.

The Sharma panel wanted to look into the action taken by the agency following the probe into all 350 allotments but the Supreme Court is yet to decide on the issue.

Source: HindustanTimes