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Coal Scam: Supreme Court grants time to Centre to suggest names for special public prosecutor

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice Deepak Gupta was considering the plea of senior advocate RS Cheema, who wanted to be relieved as the prosecutor in money laundering cases.

PTI | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Centre time till February 10 to suggest names of lawyers for appointing a special public prosecutor to conduct trials for the Enforcement Directorate in money laundering cases related to the coal block scam.

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice Deepak Gupta was considering the plea of senior advocate RS Cheema, who wanted to be relieved as the prosecutor in money laundering cases. The top court-appointed Cheema as Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) in coal block scam cases in 2014.

The bench did not seem to be in agreement with the suggestion of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, that former Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh is appointed the special prosecutor to conduct a trial in Enforcement Directorate or ED cases pertaining to coal scam cases.

“We need a trial court lawyer who has been conducting trials,” the bench said, adding that “the other lawyer” suggested by Cheema seemed to be more appropriate.

Sources told news agency Press Trust of India that Cheema has suggested the name of lawyer Satish Tamta for the job. “The other name seems to be more appropriate,” the bench said and gave the Centre time till February 10 to suggest names for this purpose.

It said the bench will not assemble for this purpose again. Cheema had said that he would like to continue as CBI’s special prosecutor in the coal scam cases, but would not want to be the SPP in money laundering matters as there was a shortage of law officers assisting him in such cases.

The top court had on December 9 asked the solicitor general and Cheema to give names of advocates who can be appointed the SPP for ED matters. The Supreme Court had earlier sought to know from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate the status of investigation and trial in the coal block allocation scam cases probed by the two agencies.