SC tears into CBI and PMO, says â€˜heart of report changedâ€™ by government NEW DELHI: Calling it a "caged parrot speaking in its master's voice", the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the CBI's claim that the sharing of its status report with law minister Ashwani Kumar and others did not alter "the central theme" or the "focus" of the investigation into the coal scam. The apex court instead held that "the heart of the report was changed on the suggestions of government officials". An angry court said, "The entire direction of the investigation has changed. Now the investigation has gone in a particular direction." Referring to the joint secretaries in the PMO and coal ministry who had been allowed to make changes in the status report, the three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said that "the job of the CBI was not to interact with government officials but to interrogate them and find out the truth". As for the disclosures made by CBI chief Ranjit Sinha in his affidavit two days ago, the court said, "It's a sordid saga that there are many masters and one parrot". On the meeting called by Ashwani Kumar to vet the status report, the bench, recalling the 1997 Supreme Court judgment in the Jain Hawala case, pointed out that even the department of personnel and training (DOPT), which was in charge of the CBI, could only have sought information on progress but not interfered with the investigation. "Does it not subvert the integrity of the investigation if changes are made in the status report on the suggestion of the law ministers and government officers?" SC gives govt 2 months for CBI autonomy reforms After a three-hour tongue-lashing of the government and CBI, the bench announced a slew of special measures to restore the sanctity of the coal scam investigation and set a two-month deadline for initiating systemic reforms to insulate the agency from extraneous pressures. On the role played by the two joint secretaries, the court said, "They could have gone to the CBI at the instance of somebody or might have gone there by themselves. There are some people who are more pious than the Pope." If the government and CBI do not show any improvement in their conduct, the court indicated that it might consider the suggestion of the petitioner's counsel, Prashant Bhushan, to set up an SIT. The cause for judicial umbrage was Sinha's admission that in the status report on an ongoing preliminary enquiry, "the tentative finding about non-existence of a system regarding allocation of specific weightage/points was deleted at the instance of the officials of PMO and Ministry of Coal". Though Sinha claimed in his affidavit that this deletion was "acceptable", the bench said that the paragraph concerned "was the heart of the report and yet that was amended". It wondered: "How on earth could the CBI allow this?" Indicating it will step in if the government dithers on giving "statutory shape and sanction to shield CBI", the bench said, "If Parliament does it we welcome that but if something is lacking, the Supreme Court has to fill the gap. The legal face of the government of India must tell us what can be done," Justice Lodha said, addressing attorney general G E Vahanvati and solicitor general Mohan Parasaran. "The best thing would be that such a law is put in place before the next hearing of the case so that there would be an impartial and non-partisan independent investigating agency," the judge said so that the CBI "functioned effectively, efficiently and independently particularly in cases regarding corruption." As Vahanvati promised to seek instructions from the government, the court made a sardonic remark on the neglect of its landmark verdict in the Jain Hawala case. "We gave the CBI a structure of bricks but it appears that 15 years all that remains is sand," it said. Significantly, Vahanvati denied Sinha's revelation that he too had contributed to the changes in the status report. "I have neither asked nor got the status report," Vahanvati said. "My meeting with CBI officials took place only on the suggestion of the law minister." Luckily for the law officer, the bench did not question him on his conduct in the matter. SC tears into CBI and PMO, says â€˜heart of report changedâ€™ by government - The Times of India ******************************************************* I fail to understand that if there is no misdoings, why is the Govt willfully tying itself in knots? CBI or any other govt agencies cannot be completely independent of the Govt. The Govt sure has all the mechanisms to put the screws on to those who do not comply. VK Singh is an ideal example and he could do so because the Army is relatively safe from Govt interference. But what chance has a policeman, even if from the CBI, not to bend like a willow to Govt and politicians as they have been doing all through their service? Shocking is the conduct of the JSs and the AG, ASG. The Law Minister being sneaky and breaking the rules and being imperious and obtuse is but par for the course and so not surprising. The PM? Is he Caesar's wife? Above suspicion? Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. The Govt will surely produce some weak and lukewarm answer to how CBI will be made autonomous.