New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) Senior counsel R.S. Cheema on Friday requested the Supreme Court to allow him to be relieved as the Special Public Prosecutor in coal block allocation cases which are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Cheema said that the shortage of law officers to assist him in money laundering cases related to irregularities in coal block allocation matter is affecting the speedy disposal of these cases.
Cheema told a bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta that out of 20 investigation reports filed by Enforcement Directorate in coal block allocation cases, cognisance has been taken in only four matters. He also told the court that only one ED’s prosecutor is available to assist him in the large volume of money laundering cases.
However, Cheema expressed his availability in contesting coal cases probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested the court not to pass any order on Cheema’s plea and assured the court that he will discuss with senior lawyers to find a solution to the issue.
On Mehta’s assurance, Justice Gupta asked Cheema to continue as the special public prosecutor for the time being and listed the matter for December for further hearing.
The top court also appreciated Cheema for doing a great service to the nation and expressed to provide him assistance. The court also asked him to make a team of lawyers and train them.
The following situation arose in the top court when it was hearing ED plea seeking permission to release 42 officials probing the coal block allocation cases. The ED has told the court that the deputation tenures of these 42 officials with the agencies were over.
The top court directed that those officers who are not investigating officers but are in a supervisory position may be released and replaced with officers of the same rank.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has estimated a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer in the controversial allocation of coal blocks by the government.