CBI back to being a ‘caged parrot’
The country’s top investigative agency has clearly forgotten the scathing criticism that came its way in the wake of the lapses in coal block allocation scam. The Supreme Court categorically pointed out that the Bureau was a ‘caged parrot’, a puppet of its political masters, and it better stop taking diktats from them. Debates raged on CBI autonomy, whether it should be invested with more powers in order to carry out its investigations without external influence. But evidently, all that has fallen into deaf ears, with the Bureau now busy closing high profile criminal cases against politicians, perhaps to save them from possible conviction by the courts, and as a consequence, a debarment from politics and contesting in polls, as per the new Supreme Court verdict. Two of such shockers have come from the Bureau, with cases against Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sushilkumar Shinde now closed, either for lack of evidence or because charges against the politician have been dropped. So, even though big relief has come in the way of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as the CBI on Friday closed a six-year-old disproportionate assets case because nothing incriminating could be traced to Yadav, deeper reasons behind the decision remain to be established. While the CBI cited SC’s order of 13 December 2012, whereby it was stated that the income, assets and expenditure pertaining to Dimple Yadav, the wife of UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, could not be included in the inquiry, it perhaps needs further reassessment whether the extended family had been involved in any circumstances. Similarly, the clean chit to Sushilkumar Shinde in the Adarsh housing society scam in Mumbai, in which he was alleged to have played a part, from the CBI comes at an interesting point, when, on the one hand, the home ministry is earning kudos for nabbing dreaded terrorists, while on the other, murkier deals in defence sector are coming to light.
While the Adarsh housing society scam involved top military officials, bureaucrats and politicians bending norms to acquire flats at artificially lowered rates at the 31-storey high-rise residential complex constructed for serving and retired personnel of the armed forces, the case against Mulayam involved amassing wealth that far extended his declared income and means to earn it. The CBI has been a case closing spree of late, with the note-for-post scam against former railway minister Pawan Bansal also shut down for insufficient evidence. Moreover, while the CBI has shrugged off allegations of political favouritism leveled at it by the parties, and while the Bureau director Ranjit Sinha, in a letter to retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, denied allegations of working for the interests of the ruling party, selective zeals for opening or closing investigations are evident in the CBI track record. In addition, while the coal ministry has declared that it has no more files to send the CBI, the agency somehow doesn’t seem perturbed enough with the ministry’s declarations. Evidently, there’s more that meets the eye in the affairs of the country’s top probing agency, with it having learnt no lesson whatsoever from the Supreme Court’s staunch admonition of the agency. Time and time again, the Bureau has been proven to be nothing but the instrument of the ruling regime, opening and closing cases as per requirement of the political masters, and the site of turf war amongst rival political establishments. It is unfortunate that this continues to happen, even after the apex court pointed out the deep-seated malaise in the system and pressed CBI to stand up on its own feet.