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Alleged Hawala dealer had daily contact with then CBI chief, SC told

New Delhi: In a startling disclosure, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi Friday told the Supreme Court that meat exporter and alleged hawala dealer Moin Qureshi had regular contacts, on daily basis, with a then CBI director.

"It discloses an astonishing state of affairs between Moin Qureshi and former director CBI - an act wholly unbecoming of the position he held," Rohatgi told a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri giving the court in a sealed cover the appraisal report by the IT department following raids on the meat exporter.

Noting the the former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director is at present member of the Union Public Service Commission, UPSC, Rohtagi said the things that have surfaced in the appraisal report have "pained" him.

"I am pained when I read it," he told the court adding that this is the state of affairs of the investigating agency on which court relies.

However, in a breather to the present CBI chief Ranjit Sinha, Rohatgi said there were no direct conversations between Qureshi and the present CBI Director but there could be innuendos in the conversation that he (Qureshi) had with other people.

Rohatgi gave the appraisal report in pursuance to Sep 19 order of the court to place before it the "appraisal report" prepared by the director general (investigation) of Income Tax on Qureshi in the wake of raids by the tax authorities.

The court direction to IT Department came after NGO Common Cause alleged that Qureshi had about 90 meetings with Sinha at his official residence and suspected him to be an alleged conduit between for the accused in coal scam cases being investigated and prosecuted by the investigating agency.

Common Cause has urged the court to direct the CBI director to stay away from the investigation and prosecution of the coal scam related cases and sought a SIT probe into his frequent meetings with accused in coal scam.

As senior counsel Amarendra Sharan, representing the CBI, and Vikas Singh, appearing for Sinha, said that this showed allegations by Common Cause represented by counsel Prashant Bhushan against the present CBI chief are "misplaced" and Bhushan's "reliable sources have turned out to be unreliable", Rohatgi said: "Let us not say all this at this stage. Let the court read the (appraisal) report."

What he had said was a mere trailer and not the whole picture, he added.

"(What) I have just given you is a trailer.. the real story is yet to come," Rohatgi said cautioning restraint.

However, Rohatgi told the court that as far as Income Tax department was concerned they were concerned with revenue aspect of the matter but "so far as the issues (that have surfaced) are concerned, the government will take a call".

Earlier in the hearing Friday, the court removed some of the adverse observations made by the special court trying the coal scam case saying that they were unnecessary. The court also declined the request of superintendent of police who wanted to recuse from the investigation in the wake of trial court observation "humiliating to him".

The court said that investigating team was constituted by it and no officer could withdraw from it without its nod.

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