The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to provide "full co-operation" to Central Bureau of Investigation in its probe in coal block allocations scam by providing it with all necessary information and files without any delay.
"As regards ongoing investigation by CBI, we have made it clear that all necessary information as required by CBI and all necessary files that may be needed for inquiry/ investigation has to be provided by all concerned," a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said.
It asked the concerned authority to provide "full cooperation" to the agency and "all files sought by it must have to be supplied at the earliest without any delay".
The apex court, which is monitoring the probe into the coal-gate, directed CBI to furnish a fresh report by August 29 on the status of inquiry/investigation upto August 25.
The bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, passed the order after one of the petitioners alleged the Ministry of Coal was not co-operating with CBI in supplying complete documents.
However, the charge was denied by the agency which replied in affirmative to a bench question "is there co-operation by all in the matter"?
Senior advoate Amarender Sharan, appearing for CBI, said "we are seeking files".
However, the main thrust of the hearing was on the issue whether there was a need for sanction under section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act to investigate the roles of high officials.
Attorney General G E Vahanvati submitted that before the officer concerned is investigated, CBI should make an application to the court seeking a response of the government as giving a go-bye to section 6A would deprive the concerned persons of the right to be heard.
"The primary concern is insulation (of CBI from influence) and there must be a proper investigation without any impediment. Nothing should be done to throttle the investigation. This can be achieved by other means which I am trying to say," he said.
However, the bench said "investigation can be frustrated if the government is asked whether a particular person is to be investigated or not.
Further, it said "why should government be allowed to be involved when there is a question mark on the government itself".
"If you demolish the first step, how will you move to the second step"? the bench said and asked "where is the requirement for sanction to proceed with the inquiry in a court-monitored investigation".
The bench said "why do you insist that there should be sanction as required under section 6A of the Act?"
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, drew the attention of the bench about CBI's stand in 2G spectrum scam case, pending before another bench, where the agency had submitted there was no need for permission under Section 6A the DSPE Act to investigate senior officers.
During the hearing, the Attorney General also said the issue of section 6A was pending before a Constitution Bench of the apex court.
However, the bench said that pending of the matter before a larger bench or the Constitution bench does not preclude another bench from looking into the diverse aspects of the law.
Further, the bench said it was mainly concerned about insulating CBI and secondly, whether sanction is necessary in a court-monitored probe.
"We are considering for general order that in all court-monitored investigations, is there a need for permission to investigate a person"? the bench said adding there is a need that section 6A of the DSPE Act has to be reconciled with other provisions.
During the last hearing, the agency had told the court there was an impediment when it has to interrogate senior officers in the rank of Joint Secretary as it has to follow the route of section 6A.