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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Direct Mr. Ranjit Sinha, Director CBI, not to interfere in the coal block allocation case investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI and to recuse himself from these cases. Direct an SIT appointed by the Hon’ble Court to investigate the abuse of authority committed by the CBI Director in order to scuttle inquires, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in coal block allocation cases and other important cases.violation of the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 is concerned, we are of the opinion that the file notes in this case cannot be described as an ‘official secret’ for the purposes of prosecuting Mr. Prashant Bhushan. 45. Accordingly, Criminal Misc. Petition No. 387 of 2015 is dismissed. 46. With regard to IA No. 13 of 2014, since we have held that it was completely inappropriate for Mr. Ranjit Sinha to have met persons accused in the Coal Block Allocation case without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present, it is necessary to look into the question whether any one or more such meetings of Mr. Sinha with accused persons without the investigating officer have had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI. We require assistance in this matter, particularly for determining the methodology for conducting such an inquiry. For rendering assistance to us in this regard, notice be issued to the Central Vigilance Commission returnable on 6th July, 2015.


                                                                  REPORTABLE
                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
I.A. No. 13/2014 and Crl. M.P. No.387/2015
                                     IN

                        WRIT PETITION (C) NO.463/2012

Common Cause & Ors.                         ….Petitioners
                                   Versus
Union of India and Ors.                         …Respondents
                                  O R D E R
Madan B. Lokur, J.
1.     The prayer in IA No.13/2014 filed by Common Cause &  others  is  two-
fold:
Direct Mr. Ranjit Sinha, Director CBI, not to interfere in  the  coal  block
allocation case investigations and prosecutions being  carried  out  by  the
CBI and to recuse himself from these cases.

Direct an SIT appointed by the Hon’ble Court to  investigate  the  abuse  of
authority committed by the  CBI  Director  in  order  to  scuttle  inquires,
investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in  coal  block
allocation cases and other important cases.

2.     In so far as the first prayer is concerned, since Mr.  Ranjit  Sinha,
the Director, Central Bureau  of  Investigation  (for  short  the  CBI)  has
admittedly superannuated on or about   2nd December, 2014  the  question  of
his recusal from investigations and prosecutions being carried  out  by  the
CBI in respect of cases arising out of what is now  commonly  known  as  the
Coal Block Allocations case has  become  infructuous.   We  are,  therefore,
concerned only with the second prayer in the application.
3.     The prayer in Crl. MP No.387/2015 filed by Mr.  Ranjit  Sinha  is  as
follows:

 Direct the  concerned  Police  Station  to  register  an  FIR  against  Mr.
Prashant Bhushan, the Petitioner Association (i.e.  Common  Cause)  and  Mr.
Kamal Kant Jaswal for making deliberate and intentional false statements  on
oath and before this Hon’ble Court in these proceedings,

 Pass other or further orders as may be deemed fit and proper.

4.     We propose to consider both these applications since  we  have  heard
submissions on them.
5.     It is not necessary to go into the detailed background  of  the  case
since all the facts are on record in the judgment delivered  by  this  Court
in Manohar Lal Sharma v.  Principal  Secretary  and  Ors.[1]   Nevertheless,
some  facts  are  necessary  for  the  purposes  of  a  decision  on   these
applications.
6.     During the course of hearing of the writ petition  on  24th  January,
2013 and in response to a query made by this Court, a statement was made  by
the learned Additional Solicitor General that on the next date  of  hearing,
the status of the investigations (into the allotment of coal  blocks)  shall
be made known to this Court  through  an  affidavit  filed  by  a  competent
authority. The case was then adjourned to 12th March, 2013.
7.     Pursuant to the statement made by the  learned  Additional  Solicitor
General, a status report was filed by the  CBI  on  8th  March,  2013  in  a
sealed cover. This status report was perused on 12th March, 2013 and upon  a
consideration of the entire matter, this Court required an affidavit  to  be
filed by the Director, CBI that the status report submitted  was  vetted  by
him and nothing therein has been shared with  the  political  executive.  He
was also required to state on affidavit that the  same  procedure  would  be
followed in respect of subsequent status reports that may be filed  in  this
Court. The status report was then re-sealed and the case adjourned  to  30th
April, 2013.
8.  Acting on the  above  order,  the  Director,  CBI  filed  the  requisite
affidavit on 26th April, 2013.  When the case was taken up  on  30th  April,
2013 the affidavit filed by the Director, CBI was  perused  and  this  Court
was of the view that the following aspects needed to  be  clarified  by  the
Director, CBI:

“(i)   As to why in the status report dated  08.03.2013  no  disclosure  was
made to this Court that the draft report has been shared with the  political
executive and officials.

(ii) What was the basis and reasons for the C.B.I. in making  the  statement
on 12.03.2013 through its  counsel  (Additional  Solicitor  General)  before
this Court that the status report dated 08.03.2013 has not been shared  with
any one and it is meant only for the Court.

(iii) In the affidavit now filed by the Director, C.B.I. on April  26,  2013
it is stated that the draft of the status report dated  March  8,  2013  was
shared with the Minister of Law & Justice as desired by  him  prior  to  its
submission before this Court and it was also  shared  with  Joint  Secretary
level officers each of the Prime Minister’s Officer and Ministry of Coal  as
desired by them but nothing has been said in the affidavit  whether  or  not
changes were made in the draft report and, if yes,  at  whose  instance  and
the extent of changes and whether besides the  three  persons  mentioned  in
para 4 of the affidavit, the draft report was shared with any  other  person
in that meeting.

(iv) The names of the two officers one each of the Prime  Minister’s  Office
and Ministry of Coal referred to in para 4 of the affidavit.

xxxx xxxxx
xxxx xxxxx”

9.     It was directed that an affidavit giving the  above  information  may
be filed by the Director, CBI by  6th  May,  2013  and  the  case  was  then
adjourned to 8th May, 2013.  As required, the Director, CBI filed a  further
affidavit in this regard on 6th May, 2013.
10.   When the case was taken up on  8th  May,  2013  Mr.  Prashant  Bhushan
learned  counsel  for  Common  Cause  made  his  submissions.   Keeping  the
submissions in mind it was directed that the Director, CBI shall  henceforth
ensure the secrecy of inquiries and investigations into  the  allocation  of
coal blocks and that no access of any nature whatsoever is provided  to  any
person or authority including any  Minister  of  the  Central  Cabinet,  Law
Officers,   Advocates   of   the   CBI,   Director   of   Prosecution    and
Officials/Officers of the Central Government.
11. It is in the background  of  the  above  broad  facts  relating  to  the
secrecy (and purity) of the investigations that IA No.  13/2014  appears  to
have been moved by Common Cause with some additional facts  having  come  to
its notice after the aforesaid orders were passed by this Court.
Pleadings and documents
12. Apart from stating a few relevant facts in the application, what  is  of
immediate concern is the averment made in paragraph  9  of  the  application
that Common Cause has come to know that Mr. Ranjit Sinha, Director, CBI  had
met several persons at his residence who  are  accused  in  prominent  cases
including the Coal Block Allocation scam without any  of  the  investigating
officers being present. (Emphasis is given by us).
It is then stated in Para 10 of the application as follows:
“It is  of  particular  significance  that  Mr.  Ranjit  Sinha  had  several
meetings with Mr. Vijay Darda, and his  son  Mr.  Devendra  Darda,  who  are
being investigated in the case of illegal allocation of  coal  blocks.   Mr.
Sinha also met with Mr. Subodh Kant  Sahay,  former  Union  Minister,  whose
brother’s company is one of the beneficiaries  of  the  allocation  of  coal
blocks and is being investigated by the CBI.”

13. In paragraph 11 of the application,  it  is  stated  that  there  is  an
‘entry register’ containing  details  of  visitors,  including  the  accused
persons, who met Mr. Sinha at his residence from time to time. It is  stated
that Mr. Sinha did not meet them at his office or in  the  presence  of  the
investigating officers. Rather, he met them at  his  residence  without  the
investigation team being present. A copy of the ‘entry  register’  is  filed
in a sealed cover as an annexure to the application.
14. In paragraph 12 of the application a reference is  made  to  Mr.  Ranjit
Sinha meeting some accused persons in what  is  commonly  known  as  the  2G
spectrum case being an appeal filed by the Centre for PIL.[2]
15. At this stage it is necessary to digress a bit and mention that  in  the
2G spectrum case, an application was filed by the petitioner  therein  being
IA No. 73 of 2014 in which it was prayed as follows:

“(i) Direct  the  CBI  Director  Shri  Ranjit  Sinha  not  to  interfere  in
investigation and prosecution of  the  case  relating  to  the  2G  spectrum
allocation being carried out by the CBI, and  to  recuse  himself  from  the
case.

(ii) Pass further orders as may be deemed fit and proper.”

16. An additional affidavit dated 5th September,  2014  was  also  filed  in
support of IA No. 73 of 2014 in which it was prayed that this  Court  should
“order an SIT investigation into the gross abuse of authority  committed  by
the CBI Director in trying to scuttle investigations and prosecutions  being
carried out by the CBI in 2G scam cases and other prominent cases…”
17. After an elaborate hearing, this Court passed an order in IA No.  73  of
2014 on 20th November, 2014 the relevant portion of which reads as follows:
“To protect and preserve the sanctity and the fair name of  the  institution
including the reputation of the Office of the Director of CBI,  we  are  not
deliberately giving out elaborate  reasons.  It  would  suffice  for  us  to
observe that the information furnished by  the  applicants  is  prima  facie
credible and therefore requires to be accepted.

Let it not be said by anybody, that we have  not  given  any  reasons  while
disposing of the application. We are  reiterating  this  statement  only  to
prevent flak from several quarters of the society.  We  would  like  to  re-
emphasize that elaborate reasons are not  necessary,  only  to  protect  the
reputation of the CBI from being tarnished.

In view  of  the  above,  we  grant  the  aforesaid  relief  sought  by  the
applicants and pass the following orders:-

(i) We recall our earlier order passed on 15.09.2014 so far  as  it  relates
to I.A. No. 73 of 2014.

(ii) We direct Shri Ranjit Sinha, CBI  Director  not  to  interfere  in  the
investigation and prosecution of  the  case  relating  to  the  2G  spectrum
allocation that is carried out by the CBI, and to recuse  himself  from  the
case.

(iii) Shri Ranjit Sinha shall be replaced by the senior most officer of  the
investigating team, constituted by the CBI  to  investigate  into  the  case
relating  to  the  2G  spectrum  allocation  and  continue  the  proceedings
further.

With  the  above  observations,  I.A.  No.  73  of  2014  (application   for
directions) is disposed of.”[3]

18. In support of his submission that an SIT should be constituted  to  look
into the abuse of authority by Mr. Ranjit Sinha  in  attempting  to  scuttle
the investigations into the coal block  allocations,  Mr.  Prashant  Bhushan
filed a short note dated  12th  January,  2015.  Along  with  the  note,  he
annexed a photocopy of a file in respect of  the  case  against  the  Dardas
(abovementioned). It was  submitted  by  Mr.  Prashant  Bhushan  during  the
course of his oral submissions that the photocopy of the file was  given  to
him by a whistle blower.
19. In response, the CBI filed a note date 18th September, 2014 in a  sealed
cover indicating the detailed procedure followed by the CBI before  a  final
decision is taken by a competent authority on closing a  case  or  filing  a
charge sheet. It is not necessary for us to  go  into  the  details  of  the
procedure followed but it is necessary only to mention  that  the  CBI  does
follow quite a detailed and open process of  discussion  and  expression  of
views before a final decision is taken on matters before it.  We may  record
that we have absolutely no quarrel with the procedure prescribed by the  CBI
before it takes a final  decision.  With  regard  to  the  ‘entry  register’
relied upon by Mr. Prashant Bhushan it is stated that  a  copy  thereof  has
not been supplied to the counsel for the CBI and  in  any  case  it  is  the
subject matter of an enquiry  before  another  Bench  dealing  with  the  2G
spectrum case.
20. The CBI also filed a note dated 20th February, 2015 in a  sealed  cover.
In this note, the merits of the  controversy  relating  to  the  Dardas  are
adverted to and the decisions taken by the CBI have been  justified.  It  is
also stated that the strength of the CBI lies  in  the  multiple  levels  of
supervision where each level is  free  and  independent  in  expressing  its
views and recommendations.  It is only after taking account of  these  views
and recommendations that the competent authority passes a final order  which
then becomes the stand of the CBI.
21. With reference to the ‘entry register’ or the  visitor’s  diary,  it  is
stated that it has not been supplied to the CBI and it  was  not  maintained
by the CBI.  It is submitted that since false statements have been  made  by
Common  Cause  in  respect  of  the  case  pertaining  to  the  Dardas,  the
‘visitor’s diary’ must also be viewed with suspicion.
22. Our attention has also been drawn to  the  order  dated  8th  May,  2013
passed by this Court to the effect that the secrecy  of  the  inquiries  and
investigations must be ensured. It is submitted in  this  context  that  the
fact that Common Cause has obtained a copy of the note sheets of the  office
file indicates that the secrecy of the concerned file has  been  compromised
and that the CBI is taking steps to ascertain how the file moved out of  the
office.
23. Mr. Prashant Bhushan filed a note in rejoinder  essentially  reiterating
the submissions made.
24. As far as Crl. MP No. 387/2015 filed by Mr. Ranjit Sinha  is  concerned,
he states that Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Common Cause and Mr. Kamal Kant  Jaswal
of Common Cause have deliberately made misstatements and stated  facts  that
are not true with a view to mislead this  Court.  It  is  submitted  in  the
application that according to them, one Mr. Moin Qureshi had  dealings  with
Mr.  Sinha  and  that  an  appraisal  report  prepared  by  the  Income  Tax
Department contained some details in this regard. It is submitted that  this
allegation was found to be incorrect  and  was  stated  so  by  the  learned
Attorney General when he appeared in  this  Court  on  17th  October,  2014.
This Court had also seen the appraisal report and did not find  anything  to
link Mr. Moin Qureshi with Mr. Sinha.
25. It is also stated that in IA No.  13/2014  as  well  as  the  additional
affidavit filed in support of this application it has  been  falsely  stated
that Mr. Ranjit Sinha had overruled his subordinate officers with a view  to
bring a closure to certain cases and this was false to the knowledge of  Mr.
Prashant Bhushan and Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal.
26. Significantly, in paragraph 6 of the application (that is  Crl.  MP  No.
387 of 2015) Mr. Sinha has adverted to the contents of  paragraph  9  of  IA
No.13/2014, wherein it has been stated  that  Mr.  Sinha  met  some  accused
persons in some prominent cases including the  Coal  Block  Allocation  case
without the investigating officer being present.  While adverting  to  this,
Mr. Sinha states in paragraph 6 of the application as follows:-

“That it has wrongly been  averred  in  para  9  that  Shri.  Sinha  (Former
Director, CBI) repeatedly overruled the Investigating  Officers  and  forced
them not to register FIRs/RCs in cases where PEs had  been  registered.   It
has been further wrongly averred that Shri Sinha  forced  the  officials  to
file closure reports in cases where FIR’s has already been registered.”

27. It is noteworthy that Mr. Sinha does not deny that he met  some  accused
persons in the Coal Block Allocation case without the investigating  officer
being present.
Submissions and discussion
28. We heard Mr. Prashant Bhushan for Common  Cause,  Mr.  Amarendra  Saran,
learned Senior Counsel for the CBI  and  Mr.  Vikas  Singh,  learned  Senior
Counsel for Mr. Ranjit Sinha in considerable detail over a few days.
29. We are of the opinion that it is not at all necessary for us, nor is  it
advisable at this stage, to enter the thicket of allegations made by  Common
Cause with regard to the  investigations  relating  to  the  Dardas  or  the
alleged attempt by Mr. Ranjit  Sinha  to  scuttle  the  investigations  with
regard to one or more of the accused  persons  in  that  case.  What  is  of
greater importance and what has  caused  us  considerable  concern  is  that
neither Mr. Ranjit Sinha nor the CBI denies that Mr. Ranjit  Sinha  had  met
some persons, including the Dardas, who are accused of  criminality  in  the
Coal Block  Allocations  case  without  the  investigating  officer  or  the
investigating team being present.
30. On the contrary, it is argued on behalf of Mr. Ranjit Sinha that  it  is
his job to meet the accused persons and to get their point  of  view  before
taking a final decision in the matter of their criminality. It is  submitted
that there is no wrongdoing if he as the Director  of  the  CBI  meets  some
accused persons so that if they are innocent, they should not  unnecessarily
and without proper justification be subjected to a criminal prosecution.
31. We need not comment  on  the  opinion  of  Mr.  Ranjit  Sinha  expressed
through his learned counsel Mr. Vikas Singh except to say that even  if  Mr.
Sinha is right, there cannot at all be any justification  for  him  to  meet
any accused person in a  criminal  case  where  investigation  is  underway,
without the investigating officer  being  present,  whether  it  is  in  his
office or as alleged by Mr. Prashant Bhushan,  at  his  residence  and  that
too, allegedly, several times including late at night.  If at all Mr.  Sinha
as the Director of the CBI had to meet any accused person for obtaining  his
point of view on the allegations against him, he should have done so in  the
presence of the investigating officer or the investigating  team.  The  fact
that Mr. Sinha admittedly met some accused persons in  the  absence  of  the
investigating officer or the  investigating  team  is  itself  a  cause  for
concern.
32.  There  is  a  very  high  degree  of  responsibility   placed   on   an
investigating agency to ensure that an innocent person is not  subjected  to
a criminal trial. This  responsibility  is  coupled  with  an  equally  high
degree of ethical rectitude required  of  an  investigating  officer  or  an
investigating agency to ensure  that  the  investigations  are  carried  out
without any bias and are conducted in all fairness not only to  the  accused
person but also to the victim  of  any  crime,  whether  the  victim  is  an
individual or the State.
33. In Sidhartha Vashisht @ Manu Sharma v.  State[4]  this  Court  made  the
following observations with regard to the entitlement of  an  accused  to  a
fair investigation:

“In the Indian criminal jurisprudence, the accused is placed in  a  somewhat
advantageous position than under different  jurisprudence  of  some  of  the
countries in the world. The criminal justice administration system in  India
places human rights and dignity for human life at a  much  higher  pedestal.
In our jurisprudence an accused is  presumed  to  be  innocent  till  proved
guilty, the alleged accused is entitled to fairness and  true  investigation
[pic]and fair trial and the prosecution is expected to  play  balanced  role
in the trial of a  crime.  The  investigation  should  be  judicious,  fair,
transparent and expeditious to ensure compliance  with  the  basic  rule  of
law. These are the fundamental canons  of  our  criminal  jurisprudence  and
they are quite in conformity with the constitutional  mandate  contained  in
Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”

34.  Similarly,  in  Manohar   Lal   Sharma[5]this   Court   observed   that
investigations have to be  fair,  impartial  and  uninfluenced  by  external
influences.  It is stated as follows:

“A proper investigation into crime is one of the essentials of the  criminal
justice system and an integral facet of rule of law.  The  investigation  by
the police under the Code has to be  fair,  impartial  and  uninfluenced  by
external influences. Where investigation into crime is handled by CBI  under
the DSPE Act, the same principles apply and CBI as an  investigating  agency
is supposed to discharge its  responsibility  with  competence,  promptness,
fairness and uninfluenced and unhindered by external influences.”[6]

35. In the present case, the contention of the learned counsel appearing  on
behalf of Mr. Sinha is that there is nothing to  indicate  that  his  client
tried to scuttle the investigations and the reference to the  investigations
in the case of the Dardas is  completely  misplaced.  It  was  contended  by
learned counsel appearing for the CBI as well as  learned  counsel  for  Mr.
Ranjit Sinha that a prayer for an investigation by an SIT  having  not  been
accepted by this Court in the application made in the 2G spectrum case,  the
same request in this application should not be accepted.
36. As mentioned above, it is not necessary for us to  examine  whether  the
investigation into the case of the Dardas was in any  manner  influenced  by
Mr. Sinha at any point of time.  What is of importance is  that  as  justice
must not only be done but it must also appear to have been done,  similarly,
investigations must not only be fair but must appear to have been  conducted
in a fair manner. The fact that Mr. Sinha met some of  the  accused  persons
without the investigating officer or the investigating  team  being  present
disturbs us with regard to the fairness of the investigations. This  is  all
the more so if we keep in mind the fact that in the 2G scam  investigations,
this Court had concluded in its order dated 20th  November,  2011  that  Mr.
Ranjit Sinha should not interfere in the investigation  and  prosecution  of
the case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation and to recuse  himself  from
the case. That an SIT was not  ordered  in  the  2G  spectrum  case  is  not
relevant. A view was  taken  that  Mr.  Sinha  should  be  directed  to  not
interfere in the investigations in that case  and  that,  coupled  with  his
meeting accused persons in  the  Coal  Block  Allocation  case  without  the
investigating officer being present, is enough  to  persuade  us  that  some
further inquiry is necessary to ensure that  the  investigations  have  been
fair in the coal block allocation cases where Mr. Sinha has had one or  more
meetings with one or more accused persons.
37. Learned counsel appearing for the CBI passionately  submitted  that  any
adverse order that we may pass in this regard would irreparably  damage  the
credibility of the CBI.  In our opinion this argument is fallacious.  If  an
independent inquiry shows that the CBI has acted  fairly,  it  will  enhance
its institutional credibility and its  image.  On the  other  hand,  if  the
independent inquiry shows that Mr. Ranjit Sinha managed  to  influence  some
specific investigations in the Coal Block Allocations case,  it  will  serve
the larger public interest and will  enable  the  CBI  to  take  appropriate
corrective  and  remedial  measures.  Either  way,  through  an  independent
inquiry the CBI will be the beneficiary rather than the loser.
38. While opposing IA No. 13/2014 and supporting Crl. MP  No.  387/2015  Mr.
Vikas Singh relied  upon  Perumal  v.  Janaki[7]  to  contend  that  when  a
palpably  false  statement  is  made  for  extraneous  reasons,  it  is   an
appropriate case for the exercise of jurisdiction under Section 195  of  the
Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (for short the Code).
39. Similarly, reference was made to State  of  Madhya  Pradesh  v.  Narmada
Bachao Andolan & Anr.[8] where  also  this  Court  observed  that  it  is  a
settled proposition of law that a false statement made in Court  or  in  the
pleadings to intentionally mislead the Court  and  to  obtain  a  favourable
order amounts to criminal contempt as it tends to impede the  administration
of justice.
40. On the other  hand,  Mr.  Prashant  Bhushan  referred  to  Indirect  Tax
Practitioners  Association  v.  R.K.Jain[9]  with  regard  to  the   growing
acceptance of the phenomenon of a whistle blower.  This Court observed  that
the respondent in that  case  was  the  whistle  blower  who  had  tried  to
highlight the malfunctioning of an  important  institution  established  for
dealing with cases involving the revenue of  the  State  and  there  was  no
reason to silence such a person by  invoking  the  contempt  powers  of  the
Court under the Constitution or the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
41. Though the submissions made  by  Mr.  Sinha’s  learned  counsel  on  the
contents of his application were limited, the oral submissions  spread  over
a larger canvas. It is submitted  by  Mr.  Vikas  Singh  that  Mr.  Prashant
Bhushan, Common Cause and Mr. Kamal Kant  Jaswal  have  not  only  committed
perjury but are also guilty  of  contempt  of  Court  and  additionally  Mr.
Prashant Bhushan has violated the provisions of the  Official  Secrets  Act,
1923 by placing on record the official notes with regard to the case of  the
Dardas. We have considered Mr. Sinha’s application from all these angles.
42. In our opinion, the submissions made by Mr. Vikas Singh in  this  regard
do not deserve acceptance. It is true  that  this  Court  had  required  the
Director, CBI to ensure, by its order dated 8th May, 2013 that  the  secrecy
of the inquiries and investigations into the allocation of  coal  blocks  is
maintained.  However, if  somebody  accesses  documents  that  ought  to  be
carefully maintained by the CBI, it is difficult to find fault with  such  a
whistle blower particularly when his or her action is  in  public  interest.
It is another matter if the whistle blower uses the documents for a  purpose
that is outrageous or that may damage the public interest.  In  that  event,
it would be permissible for this Court  or  an  appropriate  Court  to  take
action against the whistle blower, if he or she is identified. However,  the
present case is not of any such category.  The whistle  blower,  whoever  it
is, acted purportedly in public interest by seeking to bring out what he  or
she  believes  is  an  attempt  by  Mr.  Ranjit   Sinha   to   scuttle   the
investigations into the affairs of the Dardas or others in  the  Coal  Block
Allocation case.  As mentioned above, we are  not  considering  whether  the
file notes actually  disclose  an  attempt  by  Mr.  Sinha  to  scuttle  the
investigations. All that is of relevance is whether the  disclosure  by  the
whistle blower was mala fide  or  not.  We  are  of  the  opinion  that  the
disclosures made by the  whistle  blower  were  intended  to  be  in  public
interest.
43. In these circumstances, it  is  difficult  to  hold  that  Mr.  Prashant
Bhushan or Common Cause or Mr.  Kamal  Kant  Jaswal  had  any  intention  to
mislead this Court in any manner, nor do we agree that  they  have  perjured
themselves.  The file notes speak for  themselves  and  any  interpretation,
even an allegedly twisted interpretation said to have been  given  to  them,
cannot fall within the realm of perjury.
44. As far as the  allegation  that  there  has  been  a  violation  of  the
provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 is concerned,  we  are  of  the
opinion that the  file  notes  in  this  case  cannot  be  described  as  an
‘official secret’ for the purposes of prosecuting Mr. Prashant Bhushan.
45. Accordingly, Criminal Misc. Petition No. 387 of 2015 is dismissed.
46. With regard to IA No. 13 of  2014,  since  we  have  held  that  it  was
completely inappropriate for Mr. Ranjit Sinha to have  met  persons  accused
in the Coal Block Allocation case without the  investigating  officer  being
present or without the investigating team being present, it is necessary  to
look into the question whether any one or more such meetings  of  Mr.  Sinha
with accused persons without the investigating officer have had  any  impact
on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports  filed
by the  CBI.   We  require  assistance  in  this  matter,  particularly  for
determining the methodology for conducting such an  inquiry.  For  rendering
assistance to us in this regard, notice be issued to the  Central  Vigilance
Commission returnable on 6th July, 2015.


                                                               ...…………………….J
                                                         (Madan B. Lokur)


                                                               ...…………………….J
                                                         (Kurian Joseph)



                                                               ...…………………….J
                                                       (A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi;
May 14, 2015
-----------------------
[1]  (2014) 2 SCC 532
[2]  Civil Appeal No. 10660 of 2010: Centre for PIL v. Union of India
[3]  (2015) 2 SCC 362
[4]  (2010) 6 SCC 1
[5]  (2014) 2 SCC 532
[6]  Paragraph 33 of the Report
[7]  (2014) 5 SCC 377
[8]  (2011) 7 SCC 639
[9]  (2010) 8 SCC 281

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