Millennium Post

No moral ground to advise Bureau

It is a matter of stupendous irony that the luminaries from the corruption-infested UPA government have taken on the mantle from the Supreme Court of being the official CBI-baiters in the public sphere. First it was PM Manmohan Singh, who issued veiled threats to the top probing body in the garb of lending helpful advice at a CBI convention against corruption. Singh, in the pretext of assuring the Bureau of the central government’s help in the wake of a recent thunderbolt of an order from the Gauhati high court questioning the very constitutionality of the investigating agency, subtly batted for the Congress-led UPA in general, and the prime minister’s office in particular, when he asked the CBI not to confuse between ‘errors of judgment’ and ‘criminality’. Such a flimsy argument coming from the PM at a time when much of the CBI-led investigations involve myriad scams, scandals and fraudulence from the various ministries of this very government is unethical and unwarranted, to say the least. In fact, as top lawyers and commentators have already expressed, the PM’s assertions come into direct conflict with the Bureau’s already clipped powers, and living with the justified calumny of being a ‘caged parrot’ that buckles under pressure and takes orders from its ‘political masters.’ In fact, at a juncture, when the PMO’s decision itself is under scrutiny as regards the alleged coal block allocation scam when the coal portfolio was held by Singh himself, such ‘well-meaning’ advices on a public platform not only demean the PM’s own position as the head of the government, but also undermine the Bureau’s role itself, as it is being openly bullied into submission by the ruling regime through overt and covert methods of intimidation.

By echoing the PM’s position, P Chidambaram, too, has done great disservice to the credibility of the probing organisation, even though his proclamation that CBI does not stand for ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’ stand thoroughly exposed. Obviously, over the years, the opening and closing of criminal cases against rival or allied politicians have depended on the political climate. Be it Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav among several others, the Bueau has been shuttled around to hem the regional leaders in, especially in a pre- or post-poll situation. With the telecom, defence and coal scams rocking the nation’s collective conscience, what moral standing did the PM or the FM have to criticise the CBI in such partisan manner? What about the umpteen number of cases that are summarily dismissed because the political figure in question has alliance value to the electorally-embattled UPA government? Moreover, instead of advancing the discourse on CBI autonomy, as advised by the SC and desired by the Bureau itself, the government figureheads are busy telling it to adopt a double standard. Isn’t ‘error of judgment’ just a euphemism for a public order to the CBI not to treat all potential criminal cases equally? It’s the CBI’s business to probe and frame the chargesheet; not to judge, which is best left to the courts. But evidently, the legislature has a problem with that too, given most of the CBI cases are now being monitored by the SC itself. We are left to wonder what kind of competent authority is the CBI working under.
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