CURRENT FOCUS

Common Cause and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have challenged the introduction of the Electoral Bonds, as part of the Finance Act 2017, which have, arguably, made electoral funding of political parties more opaque and legitimised corruption to an unprecedented scale.

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VISITORS’ LOGS GENUINE- SC

A contention made by Common Cause that former Central Bureau of Investigation Director Mr. Ranjit Sinha’s meetings with the accused may have influenced and possibly subverted the agency’s investigation into coal scam case, has been vindicated after the visitor diaries at his official residence have been found to be genuine by a Supreme court-appointed high level committee headed by former Special Director CBI, Mr M L Sharma.

Common Cause had filed an interim application in September 2014 underlining efforts by the then Director CBI Mr. Ranjit Sinha to subvert the investigation and prosecution of the coal scam cases and requesting for a court-monitored investigation by a Special Investigation Team or by the Ant-corruption Bureau of Delhi Police in the entire matter. The perjury case filed by Mr. Ranjit Sinha against Common Cause President Mr. Kamal K Jaswal, and its counsel Mr. Prashant Bhushan for alleged false statements made in the affidavit, and in the course of the Court proceedings, was dismissed in an order of the Apex Court on May 14, 2015. In the process, the Court also made several adverse observations on the manner of conduct of inquiry by the CBI and constituted the high level committee headed by former CBI Special Director Mr. M L Sharma.

Mr. Sharma had sought the Court’s permission to access the original Visitor's Register maintained at the residence of Mr. Sinha, the list of the names of 23 personnel and the names of four CBI constables working at his residential establishment which had been directed to be kept in a sealed cover by the order passed on September 8, 2014. The Court was of the opinion that the documents sought should be handed to Mr. Sharma at the earliest to facilitate the enquiry.

This Committee submitted its confidential report in April this year. A Special Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A.K.Sikri in turn sought Attorney-General Mr.Mukul Rohatgi's assistance, giving him the panel report for his views.

 

Referring to this report,  the AG told the Supreme Court  on July 12, 2016 that the panel had indicated that prima facie there was an attempt by Mr Ranjit Sinha to influence the investigation, and that he had met some of the accused several times at his New Delhi residence. The AG submitted that the Sharma panel had indicated that the very nature of Mr. Sinha's meetings pointed to an attempt to influence sensitive investigations into these high-stakes cases. He added that the Sharma panel had, however, expressed its inability to adduce final conclusions since it had records of only the registered cases (RCs) but not the preliminary enquiries (PEs).

 

Taking note of the submissions, the bench reserved its order for passing directions on whether the report should be made public. The court will also decide on providing the Sharma panel the records of PEs. The panel is investigating the alleged scuttling of the probe into the coal block allocation cases by Mr. Sinha whose meetings with the accused persons have been held as “completely inappropriate”.