Is The CBI Being Misused?
Aristotle once said that man is, by nature, a political animal. The need for political survival and commercial morals in our country is not only a food for laughter, but a banquet for the same.
It is seen that all over the world, politicians and governments have learnt nothing from history or acted on principles except when it suited their political convenience.
Our democracy has become a free for all and every person has a prescription as to how the country or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be run. It is perhaps too bad that all the persons who really claim to know how to run the country are out of jobs, or are selling vegetables or cutting hair or running taxis. The current flavour of the season is that the CBI has become the whipping boy for its alleged misuse. The Opposition has alleged that the CBI has become the “Congress Bureau of Investigation”. Before we proceed further, it will be worthwhile
to examine the factual and legal position.
CBI, the central government’s premier investigating agency was given this name by an Executive Order on April 1, 1963, though legally, it is the Special Police Establishment (SPE), which was originally founded in 1941.
In fact in legal parlance, there is no such thing as the CBI. The matter pertaining to the formation of a CBI Act has been gathering dust for the last over three decades. The SPE Act confers concurrent and coextensive powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) along with police officers of the union territories. The central government can extend to any area, besides union territories, the powers and jurisdiction to members of the CBI for investigation with the consent of the state governments concerned. The CBI cannot either investigate or function in any state without the consent of the state governments.
The CBI cannot draw a road map for its functioning, as it is not a constitutional institution like the Election Commission or the judiciary. The truth is that catching and punishing the criminals involved in CBI cases, whether charged with corruption or other cases, is the last priority of any government, notwithstanding the proclamation of the high and mighty for a zero toleration for corruption.
The correct position is that there is a zero intolerance for dishonesty and corruption. Even during the elections, no political party had even as a sub-item in its manifesto the fight against corruption.
The plain truth is that no government, irrespective of the party in power, wants an independent investigating agency, or for that matter, any independent institution, which may not be willing to toe its line. The government has more than one way to disable the independent functioning. It is not only through checks and balances, but through delays and manipulations, exercised in different ways. Once I had an occasion to discuss the issue of independence to the CBI, and giving it full autonomy, with the highest in the government. I was clearly asked why should the government of the day lose its control. It is exactly in line with the thinking of the British, who wanted to rule and who did not believe in losing control over the police, as it was the instrument that could keep them in power. The CBI is the nearest to the police force for the central government.
The main strength of the CBI is the legal department, which critically examines the standards of an investigation i.e. whether it will stand the test of legal scrutiny. While some staff is borne on the cadres of the CBI, the top people are representatives of the Law Ministry, who look to their future not from the CBI, but to Law Ministry.
Apart from this, it is the government and not CBI that decides as to who will represent it in the constitutional courts.
An eminent jurist says; “In the Tytler drama (and the trauma accompanying it), the more important question is a general one, viz whether it isn’t time that the CBI be made institutionally independent of pressures and pulls from within the government or without. I believe we must have in place an Independent Bureau of Investigation (IBI). But this can only be by law expressly enacted by Parliament. There are models in the US which are available which could and should be adopted.”
Another former legal luminary and former top judicial functionary has laid the blame for criminalisation and corruption on the doorsteps of the CBI. He has said that its
credibility has suffered and people are frustrated. It is for these reasons that people take to extra legal methods to seek the redressal of their grievances. But the fact remains that though lip service is paid for the good governance, it appears to be the least of the priorities of the government. The total strength of the CBI is about 5,900 with 30 per cent vacancies at any given time. The government and not the CBI is responsible for quick justice
The strength of the judiciary and the CBI has remained almost the same for years, except for marginal increase here and there. The result is that cases take anything between five and 183 years (the oldest case in the Kolkata High Court). A former Director gave the following additional information two years back, out of the total number of 1,557 cases under investigations by the CBI, only 157 were over two years old, while the total number of 6,414 cases pending trial in the courts, 2300 were over eight years old and 198 were over 20 years old.
A Cabinet note of the Delhi government of pending CBI cases, described the situation as “alarming” and said that charges have not been framed in 119 cases and required an immediate corrective action.
The Cabinet note on the issue warned: “Further delay in disposal of cases would embolden the criminal to continue with their nefarious activities”.
An official in the law department said that in some cases the accused have died as “guilty” while their cases are still pending in the courts. In one particular instance, the allegation was that a clerk had received a bribe of merely Rs 10, more than 20 years ago in the MCD.
The detail break ups of the cases in Delhi reveal a sorry state of affairs 1, 389 CBI cases under Prevention of Corruption Act 1998; 39 cases have been pending for more than eight years; 51 cases have been pending for more than 15 years; 171 cases have been pending for more than 18 years.
Now look at the cases of political class. The Taj investigation of 2003 had led to the Supreme Court ordering the registration of the cases against the former Chief Minister of UP. However, the Governor of UP refused to accord sanction for prosecution of Mayawati, who had become the Chief Minister in 2007. Here it is worth mentioning that Mayawati’s party BSP was supporting the coalition at the centre at that time.
The CBI in September 1996 had registered 15 cases against the then Petroleum Minister Satish Sharma from January 19, 1993 to May 15, 1996, and the allottees under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy), Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act. The Supreme Court, too, had ordered a CBI probe into the allotments after finding Mr Sharma’s conduct “unjustified” in a 1996 judgment.
The CBI received a letter from the Home Ministry in 2006, which said: “The matter has been considered carefully, in this ministry, in all aspects, in consultation with the law ministry. After considering all the factors in totality, including Supreme Court’s review judgment dated August 3, 1999, it has been decided with the approval of the Home Minister, not to grant sanction for prosecution of Satish Sharma.” In this case the Supreme Court had directed Mr Sharma to pay Rs 50 lakh as exemplary damages for irregularities in allotment. But, three-years later, the apex court accepted a review petition from Mr Sharma to waive off the penalty imposed on him.
In almost a similar case, in 2004 itself, the CBI was not even allowed to file an appeal in the Delhi High Court against a lower court verdict acquitting JMM chief Shibu Soren in a disproportionate assets case, arising out of the JMM bribery case. Interestingly, it is to be noted that JMM was an ally of the then central government and its chief was also briefly a minister in the central government.
To Whom Should the CBI be Accountable?
The CBI has enjoyed a very high esteem ever since its inception and has been treated as the last word on investigation in this country, though from time to time, it was dragged into controversies whenever a case with political overtones was assigned to it. Irrespective of the party in power, the Opposition has always accused it of obliging the rulers. However, the CBI continued to steer clear its way and the controversies died down with passage of time. The moot question still remains whether the CBI really functions according to the dictates of party/government in power and are its investigations really steeped in their colour or is it unnecessarily dragged into such controversies, or is it the infrastructural arrangement that renders it vulnerable to the charge?
In 1994, the Supreme Court when engaged in hearing public interest petitions in Jain Hawala Case came to the conclusion that the CBI was not taking up the investigations, as bigwigs were involved. The court inferred that the CBI was not able to work impartially because it was under the influence of the government. They tried to identify some alternate agency, which could be impartial, beyond the influence of the government in power, but ultimately settled in favour of the CBI. However, for purposes of the Hawala Case, the court directed the CBI to report directly to it without reporting to the government. Besides corruption aspect, which was the responsibility of the CBI, the case involved FERA angle, and also the unaccounted money, the subjects of Enforcement Directorate and the Investigation Wing of Income Tax respectively. The court also asked these agencies to report directly to it. The court felt that the three departments would be able to conduct themselves impartially under these guarantees and the protection the court had afforded. Further, the judges made it mandatory for closure
reports, if any, to be laid before them.
Reverting to the basic question of credibility of the CBI, there is no escape from the fact that CBI investigations into the matters pertaining to high and mighty were generally coloured and since corruption is conversion of power into money, the bulk of corruption is at the highest levels where there is more concentration of power and the CBI remains diffident or crippled in taking any action against these very people who consider it as the boy from their backyard at their service. In its present form and organisation the CBI is incapable of investigating those who control its own destiny. The Supreme Court took note of this aspect, though very gently in the following words.
“This experience revealed to us the need for the insulation of these agencies from any extraneous influence to ensure the continuance of the good work they have commenced. It is this need which has impelled us to examine the structure of these agencies and to consider the necessary steps which would provide permanent insulation to the agencies against extraneous influences to enable them to discharge their duties in the manner required for proper implementation of the rule of law.”
The court, on advice of a specially constituted committee under Shri Deshmukh, a retired civil servant, worked out a system placing the CBI under the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). The CVC has been made a statutory body and assigned the responsibility for efficient functioning of the CBI, but at the same time, the Government will remain answerable for functioning of the CBI. The director CBI is to be appointed under the normal procedure of Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) but is to be recommended by a committee consisting of the CVC as chairman, the Home Secretary and the Secretary Personnel as members.
Whereas the court had initially started with the idea of freeing the CBI from any extraneous control, but in the end, it landed wherefrom it began as is obvious from the above procedure set for selection of the director, and from the court’s observations that “government shall remain answerable for the CBI’s functioning.”
Further, a nodal agency has been created under the Home Secretary with director CBI and heads of other enforcement agencies as members “for coordinated action in’ cases having politico-bureaucrat-criminal-nexus”. All big and important cases will have such nexus. Have not the CBI and all the other enforcement agencies been placed back under the Executive from whom these were to be liberated? The Executive is there to guide and obviously direct all the important cases as the government or in other words the minister in charge is answerable for the CBI’s functioning. Also, a committee of three members had been recommeded by the Court but CVC Act has raised it to five for selection of the director of the CBI. Two of its members are the officers of the Executive and the other three are the bureaucrats of yester years. Any officer of and above the rank of JD is to be selected by this same committee. How is it going to change the public perception or perception of the officers of CBI that they will not be subjected to any pressure or influence?
The Supreme Court has further diluted its own findings and earlier observations when it observed, “the constitution and working of the investigating agencies revealed the lacuna of its inability to perform whenever powerful persons were involved. For this reason, a close examination of the constitution of these agencies and their control assumes significance. No doubt, the overall control of the agencies and responsibility of their functioning has to be in the executive, but then a scheme giving the needed insulation from extraneous influence even of the controlling executive, is imperative.”
Thus, there appears to be some contradiction that CBI has to function under the executive and that insulation from the control of the executive is also to be provided. The court does not lay down any mechanism for the same. Further, in CVC Act, the CBI has been placed under the CVC only for the cases under Prevention of Corruption Act and not other work. Corruption cases are covered by one of its three operational wings. Executive will thus have full control over CBI
personnel and hence the CBI.
In no country that appears high on the scale of Transparency International, the agency entrusted with the task of investigation of graft, functions under the executive. It is recognised the world over that the agency has precisely to investigate the same very executive, both the bureaucrat and the politician. In parliamentary form of government the Prime Minister is the Chief Executive, so the chief investigating agency functions either under the head of the state or under the parliament directly or through a parliamentary committee, but definitely not under a minister or tilt’ prime minister. In countries like South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia such agencies function under the head of the State whereas in the UK and Australia, they function under the control of a parliamentary committee. The essence is that the system should ensure full functional autonomy, do away with any external interference and should be able to take strong action against its own erring members so that none, not even its own chief, should dare to take any undue liberty with its systems.
The system in the USA is altogether different as no representative elected to either house under the US Constitution can hold an office of profit. The President proposes the name of the Attorney General (AG), who supervises the FBI. His appointment is further subject to the approval of the Senate. The Attorney General is a constitutional entity and is independent. Under their system, he is not subject to any political or administrative pressures from the executive, so there is no need (or him to interfere into the affairs of the FBI, though he can guide and check it in certain matters. Independence of the office of Attorney General has been proved time and again. The latest in the series was the appointment of an independent Attorney by him to investigate President Clinton in Monica Lewinsky’s case, something un-thinkable in India.
It compels us to think of an independent system for the premier investigating agency so that it could really be free from all sorts of pressures and still more important the agency should not appear to be labouring under any pressure, and nor should it appear to be vulnerable by way of any infrastructural disabilities. The following few alternatives can be suggested:
- Under Direct Presidential Control
In some of the countries that have successfully fought against corruption, the supervision and superintendence of such agencies has been entrusted to the head of the state in place of the head of the government. Since head of the state is beyond all politics, the agency is unlikely to be vulnerable to any pressure and also will be seen by the people as independent of the executive as the agency not only needs to be fair, but also needs to appear to be fair. All the functions in context of this agency vested in the government could henceforth vest in the President. Only the annual report of the Agency could be placed before the parliament.
As the President is the constitutional head, a question may arise whether such an arrangement would be legal, practicable and desirable. In countries like Malaysia that have constitutional monarchy, this system is functioning well. In India only an amendment to the constitution is required, and should present no problem, once there is seriousness. Details of how the President will exercise his powers and rules of business for the agency can be framed and approved by the parliament.
- Under a High Powered Constitutional Head
The director of the CBI, like CAG, could be given an independent constitutional status. The director could function independently and be accountable in the same manner and to the authority as the CAG is at present. Its report could be laid before the Parliament so that the sovereign body is kept informed of the activities of the chief investigating authority of the country.
- Under a High Powered Board
The CBI could function under a High Powered Board constituted either under the constitution itself or under a statute. The CVC, as envisaged by the Supreme Court in its judgment
dated 18th December 1997, in the Jain Hawala Case, is somewhat on similar lines. This Board should be a pluralistic body whereas CVC is only a three-member body, though in reality it is a single member Commission as all the discretion is vested in one man i.e. the CVC himself. A single person commission or body to supervise the CBI is not a good alternative and will not, serve the purpose. Second, a committee selects the CVC, whereas members of the Board as visualised here should be thrown up by the system automatically and there should be no element of selection so that the members are not obliged to anyone. Third, in CVC system, the selection of the director CBI and the other senior officers is again left predominantly to the members of the executive only. This discretion and all other powers, now being exercised by the government should be vested in the Board itself. The Board could have about a dozen members as follows:
- Last retired Chief Justice of India.
- Last retired Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
iii. Last retired director of CBI.
- Last retired Chief of Army or Navy or Air Force (one of them).
- Last retired Chairman Bhaba Atomic Energy Commission.
- Last retired Chairman University Grants Commission.
vii. Last retired Governor Reserve Bank of India.
viii. Last retired Cabinet Secretary.
- Last retired Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Deputy Chairman Rajya Sabha, who must have finally retired from active politics (One of the two).
- Last retired Chief of Central Board of Excise & Customs or the Central Board of Direct Taxes (One of the two).
- Serving director CBI as the member-Secretary.
The Board would thus have 11 members with a quorum of seven but the presence of the Chairman and the Secretary should be mandatory. The Board must meet once a month or more often.
Chances of pressurising such a broad-based body are reduced to the minimum. All the members are high dignitaries retired from diverse fields and such positions of responsibility that collectively they will neither commit any indiscretion themselves nor allow any being committed. Since they would represent a number of disciplines, the CBI would be able to get specialised guidance in various spheres, which may enable it to conduct investigations better.
All the operational and the administrative powers would be vested in this Board, including grant of prosecution sanction, selection of director and other officers. The Board could delegate such powers as it thought fit to the director.
After the approval of the Board, the Secretary (director) would send the annual report of the bureau to the parliament and could also appear in person before the parliament whenever desired by the speaker and place before or explain to the sovereign body any particular documents or issues.
- Under Parliamentary Control
The Parliament could oversee functioning of the CBI either directly or through a committee. Direct of
supervision may pose problems, as the Parliament is not a body that makes day-to-day decisions. It could exercise its supervision through an all party Parliamentary Committee, say Joint Parliamentary Committee UPC), constituted specially for the purpose. The CBI, on the pattern of the Australian model, could be made accountable and answerable to this committee, as adapted to Indian conditions. It is this committee, and not the minister or any other member of the executive, who should guide the affairs of this chief investigating agency. Rigorous qualifications and restraints could be prescribed in order to ensure that the committee has persons of integrity who mean business. The committee should exercise all the powers that are vested in the government at present. The committee should have no powers to interfere in the investigations, which should remain the responsibility and the prerogative of the investigating agencies and the law courts alone.
Parliamentary control will give certain advantages. As the committee would represent all or at least all the major parties in the Parliament, both from treasury as also the opposition benches, no one individually would be able to give any order to the CBI, but at the same time, the CBI would also have to stick to the law and that by itself would act as its shield. It may be said that even on the committee, the ruling party will be represented in majority so the decisions could swing in its favour. However, with the presence of members of other parties, the questioning and discussions would be threadbare. With access of all the members to CBI records, even the absolute majority will find it impossible to bulldoze the truth and law. Moreover since all the major parties are to be on the committee, none will be able to blame it of any political bias or vendetta. At present, it is a standard practice to make allegations of political victimisation even in case of the most professional action taken by CBI. However some safeguards against brute majority could be built in the system like prescribing maximum number or percentage beyond which no single party can have representation on the committee irrespective of its strength in the parliament. Second, the director CBI could have a right to demand hearing by the full house if he does not agree with the decision or the directions of the committee. Such proceedings of the house should be fully telecast over all the TV news channels, so that the people in general could judge the issues for themselves. This will act as a big deterrent by itself.
The Parliamentary Committee could consist of say fifteen members, ten from Lok Sabha and five from Rajya Sabha, apart from a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman. Presence of either the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman should be essential for chairing the committee along with a quorum of eleven members. The Vice-Chairman would exercise the same powers as the Chairman while presiding over the committee meetings.
Following categories could be debarred from the membership of the committee in order to keep it clean:
- a) Any member who has any criminal case or that of evasion of taxes pending in any court or tribunal in India.
- b) Any member who has any criminal case pending with police of any State or any other specialised Central or State Agency.
- c) Any member who has been convicted/fined for any criminal offence or on ground of evasion of any tax of Central or State Government.
- d) If he is holding any office of profit such as a minister, a parliamentary secretary or any other.
- e) The membership of JPC will automatically cease if a member accepts an office of profit or resigns from Parliament or when Parliament is dissolved.
The JPC could perform the following functions:
- Recommend appointment of the director CBI.
- Exercise superintendence over the functioning of CBI.
iii. It will have right to examine the evidence in an open house only.
- The committee may approve any reports to be printed.
- The committee could call any papers, persons, or records from CBI to monitor and to review the exercise of its functions.
- Report to both the Houses of Parliament, with such comments as it thinks fit, on any matter pertaining to the CBI or connected with the exercise of its functions to which, in the opinion of the Joint committee, the attention of Parliament should be drawn.
vii. To examine each annual and other report of the CBI and report to both the Houses of Parliament on any matter appearing in, or arising out of, any such report.
viii. To examine trends and changes in corrupt conduct, practices and methods relating to corrupt conduct, and report to both Houses of Parliament any change that the committee thinks desirable to the functions, structures and procedures of the bureau.
- To inquire into any question in connection with its functions referred to it by either House of Parliament, . and report to it.
- To consider the cases for Prosecution sanction.
- Refer such complaints as it may think fit for enquiry/ investigations by the CBI.
Provided nothing authorises the Committee:
- a) To reconsider a decision to investigate, not to investigate or to discontinue investigation of a particular complaint or a case, and
- b) To reconsider the findings, recommendations, determinations or other decisions of the bureau in relation to a particular investigation or complaint.
Either House of the parliament by resolution may refer to the bureau any matter that it may like to be investigated or to obtain any information. The CBI will be duty bound to investigate fully and present a report to the House in respect of the offences included in the schedule.
In case of disagreement between the director CBI and the committee, if the former feels, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha may permit a discussion in the House where director could present his case. Decision of the House shall be final. Whichever of the above systems may be adopted, the government will have certain rights. First of all the Central Government will have co-terminus rights to refer any complaint to CBI for investigation/enquiry. It will not require permission from JPC or Board or any other authority for causing such investigations/ enquiries and nor will CBI wait for any clearance from the JPC or the Board, but shall only inform such Board or JPC at the first available opportunity. The Supreme Court and High Courts, of course, have their original jurisdiction under the Constitution. As such any case referred by them will have to be entertained. Once registered, the cases referred by the Supreme Court, the High Courts, the Union Government, the Parliament, the JPC or those registered by the CBI on its own, would all be treated at par. Second, a copy of the annual report of the CBI would be sent to the government as soon as it is ready. Third, a monthly diary will be sent to the government in order to keep them posted about the activities of the CBI. A copy of the proceedings of the meetings of the Board/JPC will also be sent to the government for information.
When the CBI takes up an investigation or an enquiry, neither the police of any state, nor any other law enforcement agency shall investigate any such offence or complaint. Any such case/ complaint, which has already been registered by any police force or by any enforcement agency and is pending investigation/enquiry, shall stand automatically transferred to the bureau.
Only the countries, where the anti-corruption agencies have freedom of action within the ambit of given laws, have been able to fight corruption. It is absolutely essential that the agency should be liberated in order to liberate the country from corruption. Any of the above four models will make the CBI accountable to law through the courts of law and to the people in general instead of the ruling classes and will also help in shedding the mindset of protecting the people in power. Conditions in states are rather worse.
Excerpts from “Who Owns CBI: The Naked Truth”, by BR Lall IPS (Retd), Manas Publications, New Delhi
Similarly, in the Bofors case, Quattrocchi’s counsel was able to produce the internal file noting in his defence. Despite the fact that the CBI does not have an independent status under the Constitution and is a wing of the government, it has done a commendable job in the cases entrusted to it, though some of them have been stymied by the government.
According to the report of Delhi
High Court for the year 2008: Whether it is acceptable or not, the statistical observation at the present rate of disposal, assuming the filing of new cases to be the same, it would take the court approximately 466 years to wipe out the pendency of the 2,324 appeals. Amongst 2,324 criminal appeals three had been waiting for justice for 20 years.
According to the same report, amongst the pending criminal appeals 34 cases were more than 15 years old and three of them were 20 years old. Another revelation was that more than half of the pending appeals were over five years old.
Misuse of CBI by UPA
The BJP objects to the gross misuse of the CBI in the last six years by the UPA government. The UPA I and II have used the CBI for (1) Covering up or white washing offences of Congress and other UPA leaders, (2) Pressuring vulnerable opposition leaders, particularly those belonging to BJP, SP and RJD and (3) Harassing opposition leaders who were not vulnerable to government pressure.
Covering up or whitewashing offences of Congress leaders
The following cases can be cited under this example:
- The case against Shri Ajit Jogi (buying of MLAs) was systematically finished by misusing the CBI. (Outlook India Website, April 27, 2010)
- The Bofors case and the complete failure to bring the Italian Quattrocchi to face the Indian courts was accomplished by misusing the CBI (Source : Outlook India, April 27, 2010)
- A Delhi Court (February 23, 2010) criticised the CBI for its failure to arrest and produce former Congress MP Shri Sajjan Kumar. A judge remarked, “There is a slight suspicion on the genuineness of the effect of the CBI… Is this the manner CBI functions? Where have all the witness gone?” (Source : www.thehindu.com February 24, 2010)
- The Supreme Court had criticised the CBI for “acting at the behest” of the centre in trying to clear Shri Jagdish Tytler from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Several glaring loopholes marked the CBI investigation, very clearly indicating that the centre was directing the CBI to relieve Shri Tytler. (One India News April 2, 2009)
Pressuring vulnerable Opposition leaders
- Susri Mayawati had stated “… the CBI has illegally and under political pressure been continuing the Disproportionate Asset case against me”. (Source: Raj Thackerey News & Info, April 23, 2010)
But while this was so on the eve of the debate on the cut motion during the Budget session April 2010 a statement was made before the Supreme Court seeking to dilute the same DA case thus misusing the CBI. (Source: Outlook India April 27, 2010)
Shri Sharad Yadav JD(U) also accused the government of misusing the CBI. (Source: DNA News April 28, 2010)
Again in the case of Susri Mayawati’s Taj Corridor case the flip flops done by the CBI are well known and widely reported in the media. (www.outlookindia.com April 27, 2010)
- Shri Amar Singh reacting to DA case and the PIL in the Supreme Court said “The CBI has become Congress Bureau of Investigation.” He alleged that the CBI was being used as a tool and that a question mark has risen over the impartiality of the investigating agency. (Source: The Indian Express website February 11, 2009)
- The case against Shri Lalu Yadav was weakened by changing the public prosecutor at a critical time.
Shri Yadav was exonerated by collusively managing the Income Tax Department proceedings and misusing the CBI. (Source: Outlook India April 27, 2010)
The CBI rubbished its own finding against Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Smt Rabri Devi. The CBI rubbished its original argument, went to oppose the Bihar government in the process. (Source : hindu.com, tehelka.com, timesofindia.com, dnaindia.com etc.)
- The Supreme Court came down harshly on the CBI in the Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav’s DA case. Earlier, it had criticised “the CBI was acting as the behest” of the Centre. (Source: ibnlive.in.com Febuary 11, 2009)
- The UPA suppressed the charges against Shri Mulayam Singh as it required the support of the MPs from the Samajwadi party.
Harassing Opposition leaders not vulnerable to government pressure
Cases of fake encounter killing of dreaded criminals by police are registered all over the country.
The UPA Government has taken extra ordinary interest to entrust the case of the encounter killing in Gujarat to the CBI even after the Gujarat Police filed charge sheets against several senior police officers.
Sohrabuddin was earlier accused of spreading terror and was arrested and remanded to police custody in 1995. 24 AK-56 rifles, 27 hand grenades, 5250 cartridges and 81 magazines were recovered from a well in the fields belonging to Sohrabuddin.
Sohrabuddin was associated with the Dawood and Latif gangs.
There are several cases pending against Sohrabuddin in different states.
The State CID Crime has progressed steadily and charge sheeted 13 accused consisting of top police officers. The UPA government acting in tandem, being pressured by NGOs and activists took up the case of an anti-national and a criminal like Sohrabuddin.
By Nitin Gadkari
In this scenario, not only the big fish, but all kinds of fish get away. There is a culture of an unabashed favouritism by the political masters. A minister in the government wanted the gas supplied to his company and he managed to get the same. Only when the Tamil Nadu Power Producers Association went to courts, both in Delhi and in Chennai, against the allocation, both the courts stayed the allocation. Caught by surprise, Baalu, then a minister, confessed and unabashedly claimed that there was nothing wrong if he had “requested the union petroleum minister” to provide gas to a company (His family owns).
The misuse of power is more frequent and common. Our leaders believe that God is on everyone’s side—and in the last analysis. He is on the side with plenty of money and large armies!
According to groups working on electoral reforms, 84 of the newly elected Congress party and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians in India’s 2009 general elections have criminal cases pending.
Main Operational Arms Of CBI
At present the CBI has three main operational arms or wings viz
(a) Anti-Corruption Wing (AC)
(b) Economic Offences Wing (EOW)
(c) Special Crime Wing (Spl. Crime)
Each wing functions under an officer of the rank of Special director or the Additional director and is further divided into zones. An officer of the rank of Inspector General designated as Joint director UD) heads each zone and is assisted by two or more DlsG. A DIG has two to three branches under him. His charge is known as a region. Each branch is commanded by an SP, assisted by IOs of the rank of DSPs and Inspectors, besides the supporting staff. The branch is the basic and the executive unit. All officers above the rank of SP have supervisory role, though they may personally take up some important cases themselves as IO.
Anti-corruption wing is the largest with six zones under six JDs, of whom five are territorial and one heads the Central zone, also called the Headquarter (HQ) zone. The central zone gets the most important cases having ramifications all over the country or involving the bigwigs including the VIPs and the VVIPs. The AC wing has zones, regions and branches all over the country.
The EOW and the Spl. Crime wings have three and foul JDs respectively. Their branches are normally all located in Delhi at the Headquarters only, though as per requirement their Officers fan out.
Besides the three operational wings, there are supporting divisions, which render technical/legal advice, provide training, administrative cover, and scientific services to the CBI. In addition, the Interpol division helps in coordination and liaison work with other police forces and agencies the world over.
The CBI has been functioning under the Union Government, Ministry of Personnel, but following the Supreme Court judgement of 18th December 1997, in the Jain Hawala Case, some organisational and operational role and superintendence has been transferred from the government to the CVC, as the court found that because of executive control over it, the CBI was not investigating the big and the influential people in that case and was succumbing to the pressure of powers that be. It is in this context that the Supreme Court focussed on the question of accountability and tried to liberate the CBI from the control of the executive. The question that arises is to whom should it be accountable. The Supreme Court tried to address this question, but still it does not seem to have been settled finally. The question is vital and needs a thorough examination.
BJP has the highest number of Members of Parliament (MPs) facing criminal charges at 43, while the Congress has 41. The groups claim that other 69 MPs from minor parties are also facing criminal cases. In a scathing observation made on August 27, 2009, the Supreme Court of India said: “Those in power have come forward to protect the wrong doers either by issuing administrative orders or (by) enacting laws for regularisation of illegal and unauthorised constructions in the name of compassion and hardship…Such actions have done irreparable harm to the concept of planned development of cities and urban areas.” It added “It is high time that executive and the political apparatus of the State took a serious view of the menace of illegal and unauthorised constructions and stop their support to the lobbies of affluent class of builders and others, else even the rural areas of the country will soon witness similar chaotic conditions.”
What can be starker, than what the Supreme Court has said about the misuse of government agencies by the political and executive apparatus for their best interests and for the reasons best known to them?
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi conceded on May 5, 2009, that political parties tend to misuse the CBI. “Every party in power can pressure institutions. Every government tries to push its people into such agencies. It is a fact, it is a reality of Indian politics.”
BJP has described Mr Gandhi’s comments as a “confessional statement” on the misuse of CBI. The Opposition has been steadfast in its charge that the CBI is being manipulated by the ruling Congress. Of late, even parties viewed as friendly to Congress have accused the CBI of calibrating its probe in sensitive cases to suit the whims of the forces in power. To say that the CBI has been misused can be answered with the reply that no question is as difficult to answer, as that. The implication is obvious.
By Joginder Singh
(The writer is former Director, CBI)