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2G: CBI chief defends filing of separate counter affidavits

New Delhi: CBI Director Ranjit Sinha has vigorously defended his decision to file separate individual counter-affidavits before the Supreme Court in petitions filed by the six accused seeking quashing of charges in the 2G spectrum scam.

Sinha came out with his defence after the then Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit, now appointed as judge of Supreme Court, raised objections to these affidavits.

"No time is appropriate to bring the truth before the Supreme Court," Sinha said in a strong observation made in an internal note on the questions raised by Lalit over the matter being reconsidered by the CBI Chief and individual affidavits being filed after a consolidated reply was given earlier.

"This case (2G) was investigated and chargesheets were filed before I took over the office," he added. Sinha said that while the trial before the special CBI court was underway, the chargesheeted accused in the case had filed writ petitions before the Supreme court which issued notice to the CBI for filing a response.

"A consolidated reply, which was not approved by me as I was on tour, was prepared and filed by the CBI on 04.03.2014 before the Supreme Court. "Later, when the concerned file was put up to me for perusal and post facto approval, I had the occasion to examine the matter at length and while going through the case records,

I came across certain facts which were probably not addressed properly during the course of investigation," Sinha said. The CBI Director said that consequently he had made "certain queries and after obtaining the necessary clarifications, I was of the view that it was necessary to file separate individual counter affidavits."

Sinha reasoned that the case of each of the petitioners stood on different footing and complete facts and that circumstances must be brought before the apex court.

DMK leader Kanimozhi, Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Shahid Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables had filed separate petitions in the Supreme Court seeking quashing of all charges made by the CBI against them.

The CBI Director wanted to reply to each affidavit separately and also bring to the notice of the Supreme Court about an opinion of the Law Ministry whereby it was stated that no case was made against Reliance as they had no cross holding of shares in Swan telecom.

The proposal was shot down by Lalit who posed questions to the Director as to under whose authority can the matter be attempted to be reconsidered; Which provision of law empowers such reconsideration at this stage; Once the chargesheet has been filed, will it be right for the Director of CBI to reconsider the matter and will such an act not impinge upon the independence of the investigating officer as bestowed upon him by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

"When the individual draft affidavits were put up to the undersigned (Sinha), it was ordered that the noting of the undersigned in the case file should be incorporated in the replies so that the full facts and circumstances, as available in the records, were placed before the Supreme Court.

"Needless to say, it is my duty to bring those aspects to the knowledge of the Supreme Court to ensure that full facts were placed on record and miscarriage of justice is avoided," he said in the internal file noting on Lalit's observations.

Defending his authority, Sinha said "as Director CBI, it is incumbent upon me to ensure that the investigation carried out by CBI is fair and free from bias, including the bias of public perception.  Moreover, any relevant fact that comes to my notice even after the charge-sheet has been filed, and which may have bearing on the outcome of the case and which requires reconsideration can be looked into by me or any other officer of the CBI in the interest of justice."

He said the paramount duty of the CBI was not to seek acquittal or conviction of a person but to bring full facts and circumstances before the court "as and when such facts come to my knowledge".

"As this case is being monitored by the Supreme Court, failure to bring these facts and circumstances to the attention of the Supreme Court, even at this belated stage, would tantamount to dereliction of duties. Therefore, as Director, I am authorised and duty bound to take all actions within the bounds of the Constitution and the CBI (crime) manual."

Sinha said his action would in no way impinge upon the independence of the investigating officer because the final authority in matters of investigation rests with the Director CBI.

"Bringing the truth to the fore, however bitter it may be, can in no way be construed as impinging upon the independence of the investigating officer as contained in the Criminal Procedure Code," Sinha said in his noting.

Putting to rest the matter after Lalit's observations, the CBI Director said "the (then) special PP, however, has not opined whether the facts contained in the draft counter- affidavits are relevant or otherwise. Instead, issues have been raised which affect the basic functioning of CBI and the authority of the director.

"But that as it may, since he has directed CBI not to file any affidavit with facts which may affect the case in a fundamental way, we may not agitate the issue any further at the moment. We may consider raking up this matter in the interest of justice when the new special PP is appointed by the Supreme Court shortly."

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