CBI tells SC it is ready to probe Sadiq Batchas death

New Delhi: The CBI on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it is willing to take over the probe into the mysterious death of Sadiq Batcha, a close aide of 2G spectrum case accused and former telecom minister A Raja.

"The CBI has expressed its willingness to take over the investigation into Batcha`s death," senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the agency, told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly. Earlier the Tamil Nadu Government had favoured a CBI probe into Batcha`s death.

The bench asked Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising to take instructions from the Centre and inform it about the issuance of a notification for transferring the case to the CBI by April 4.

The CBI also informed the court that senior advocate U U Lalit will be appointed as special public prosecutor for the trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case before a special court exclusively set up for the purpose.

The court asked the law officer to take instructions and inform it by Tuesday on notification on appointment of the special public prosecutor.

The apex court had earlier sought CBI`s response to a plea for transferring to it the probe into Batcha`s death in Chennai early last month.

The court had sought the agency`s reply on the plea by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) on whose petition the court had ordered CBI to probe the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Batcha too had faced CBI interrogation four times since December last year when the agency had conducted searches at his official and residential premises.

38-year-old Batcha was found dead in mysterious circumstances at his home in South Chennai on March 16 and his wife had claimed that he committed suicide as he was "unable to cope with the pressure" of the probe.

Batcha was the managing director of Greenhouse Promoters, which the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate suspected to be a front for Raja.

On the issue of appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, the CBI on Tuesday had said it was facing difficulty in finding a capable lawyer for the case as corporates and their officers likely to be named in the case have already hired the top lawyers to defend them.

However, Veugopal today told the bench that senior advocate U U Lalit, who had earlier expressed his reluctance to being appointed as Special Public Prosecutor, has agreed to take up the job in "public interest".

Venugopal said CBI preferred Lalit for the job as he has tremendous experience in the criminal law and is the most appropriate person at the moment to head the team of prosecutors in the case.

The Bench took on record the statement made by Venugopal on the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor and said, "Lalit is a senior advocate of this court and will be assisted by a team of prosecutors. Let CBI take a decision in this regard. Nobody can say anything on the statement made by Venugopal (on Lalit)".

It said, "Considering the width and magnitude of the case, it is required that there should be a team of prosecutor for Lalit".

The Bench expressed satisfaction over the progress of investigation into the case in which the CBI is ready to file the charge sheet tomorrow.

"We are seeing that things are being taken up expeditiously," the bench said, adding that after the charge sheet is filed tomorrow, "many thing will become clear as it (charge sheet) will become a public document".

"It is assured that things are moving in right direction. We have no reason to think otherwise," the bench said when Bhushan submitted that a direction be given to make charge sheet and other documents public.

Bhushan had suggested the names of senior advocates Arvind Nigam and Harish Gulati to be appointed as Special Public Prosecutor but the bench said if needed they could be considered for Lalit`s team.