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Will Follow SC Directions In Letter And Spirit: CBI

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Facing the ire of Supreme Court in its coal block allocation scam probe, CBI on Wednesday, 8 May 2013, assured the apex court there will be a "thorough and qualitative" investigation and follow its directions in letter and spirit.

"CBI assures Supreme Court of thorough and qualitative investigation into Coalgate. It will follow directions of Supreme Court in letter and spirit," the premier probe agency said in a statement.

The statement came hours after the CBI was rapped over sharing of the status report in the ongoing probe with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and other officials of Coal Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office(PMO).

On the issue of DIG Ravikant Mishra who was supervising probe in the coal allocation scam before he was transferred to Intelligence Bureau, the agency said he had completed his tenure and left because of "family reasons" even though he was given extension in the bureau.

The CBI's remark came against the backdrop of the direction by the court that immediate steps be taken by Centre and CBI to repatriate Mishra.

"Mr Ravikant who was the SP in some of the coal allocation cases has completed his tenure in CBI as SP.

Extension was offered and even insisted upon but he agreed for only a year as DIG and himself sought to move out of CBI due to family reasons.

He was relieved at the end of March," a CBI official said without commenting on the observations made by the Supreme Court on this aspect.

A 1998-batch IPS officer of Odisha cadre, Ravikant was heading probe in cases related to alleged irregularities in the coal mine allocation and joined Intelligence Bureau after leaving CBI.

The atmosphere at the plush agency Headquarters was full of anticipation as senior and junior officers alike were awaiting the approach of the Supreme Court on the issue of alelged political interference in the working of the agency.

CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was keeping a tab on the happenings from Patna where he has gone on "tour", agency sources said here.

As soon as the court observations were flashed on news channels, senior CBI officials were seen glued to their LED screens in their offices. The officials, who were out of offices for work, were seeking minute-by-minute details of hearing through their sources over phones.

The reactions were mixed as officials did not wish to comment on record on this politically sensitive and Supreme Court related matter.

Before the hearing began, one of the senior officials had commented that they wanted some "strict guidelines" issued by Supreme Court so that they could avoid succumbing to political pressure.

Another official said it was good that Supreme Court raised the issue of freeing the agency from political interference as CBI is dependent on the Government for day-to- -day working and various resources.

In a significant order after a three-hour hearing, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R M Lodha came heavily on CBI saying the Director and investigating team should have stood up and denied any access to two joint secretaries to the draft status report.