Fighting for its autonomy, CBI turned over a new leaf Tuesday when it firmly opposed even the Supreme Court’s proposal to appoint a lawyer as amicus curiae to assist the court in analysing the agency’s probe reports in the coal blocks allocation case.
CBI’s battle for independence in its investigation process witnessed an intriguing courtroom drama as it vehemently argued that since the apex court was only monitoring the coal scam probe, all it had to examine was the agency’s “fairness and pace” and not allow an outsider to pass judgments on CBI’s actions.
“How can we share our reports with an outsider (amicus) when the court itself had restrained a constitutional functionary like the Attorney General to see the report? I have an apprehension that the moment we are asked to show it to an outsider, it will take the colour of supervising the probe and not just monitoring it,” senior advocate Amarendra Sharan argued for CBI.
A Bench led by Justice R M Lodha questioned Sharan as to how appointing an amicus to assist them will prejudice CBI’s case and that the court was clear in its mind that it was not going to supervise the investigation. “But the function of the amicus will be to examine the report and comment upon its merits. That will mean giving the power of the trial court to someone else. Only because this court is monitoring the case, we are submitting our status reports. Otherwise, we are not bound to share our reports with anyone. An investigating agency has to work independently,” Sharan asserted.
While PIL petitioners, advocates M L Sharma and Prashant Bhushan, contended that CBI cannot oppose the court’s will, Sharan held the ground, arguing “purity of the investigation goes” if the reports are shared with an outsider and there will also be possibilities of leakage of information. He added that such a step was bound to take some form of interference in the investigation.
Sharan also said that the lawyers, who had on the last date of hearing stood up in favour of appointing an amicus in the case and argued “vociferously,” were likely to appear for the accused in the coal blocks allocation cases. Senior advocates Harish Salve and Abhishek Manu Singhvi had favoured the court’s suggestion to appoint an amicus. “Somewhere there is an effort to see that investigation moves in a particular direction,” he claimed. Sharan’s strong objection compelled the