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Before the mysterious murder

HC judgment on Aarushi murder case has so many strictures on CBI’s working!

Before the mysterious murder

When Allahabad High Court allowed the appeal of parents of Aarushi, the Talwar couple, both high flying dentists, the reputation of the already beleaguered CBI tanked. This is not sudden. This institution was created on All Fools Day! 963 and its legal powers stem from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. Its predecessor is the Delhi Special Police. This came into being in the early 40s. The war effort then was impeded by unscrupulous contractors and babus in the unholy nexus. The Delhi Special Police was created as the scimitar to strike against it.

The rot started in Mrs. Gandhi's time as most rots did. The committed Supreme Court, the committed bureaucracy, trampling on inner-party democracy within Congress, dynastic rule etc. It is true that she was a great Prime Minister of India, probably the greatest yet. She is also its despoiler and her imposition of Emergency and the excesses done in its name, some of it unknown to her and some despite her specific objections, will forever tarnish her image.
Her role in starting the rot in this organisation began immediately after she became PM. The first target was Ram Nath Goenka and the Indian Express for opposing Mrs. Gandhi, The next was G D Birla and his son R D Birla for propping up incipient Swatantra Party.
I call myself an insider in CBI. The UPSC recruited me in the first batch of gazetted officers in the Delhi Special Police Establishment as CBI was still known, in 1963. I know the Birla episode first hand. I was a part of the huge team under the head of the then dirty tricks department of the CBI called the Fraud Squad. A case of evasion of excise duty and payment of mamool and bakshis to petty central excise officers located in the textile mills under the management of the Birla Empire was converted into a case of gross corruption. During Emergency, a few CBI units in Delhi were used against those whose actions appeared to oppose the Emergency. The canvas stretched from petty textile Inspectors to the fiery George Fernandes. These investigations went against the grain of then CBI Director and were kept under tight leash so as to not look like acts of terror. The rot was spreading.
The reprieve after the Emergency was short lived. The last years of Morarji Bhai's rule saw a CBI Director who found "evidence of corruption simply oozing in Mrs. Gandhi's deeds". His team earlier had provided material for Justice Shah to test his inquisitorial proceedings in instances Emergency excesses. Rewarded with CBI's Directorship he used a few headquarter units of the CBI to marshal material and witnesses to nail Mrs. Gandhi, R K Dhawan, Vidya Charan Shukla, Sanjay Gandhi in many CBI investigations and Charge sheets. I am not saying they were false cases. But they were hunted out and complaints forced out of victims who might on their own never have gone to police stations. When Mrs. Gandhi came back these cases were under trial.
The new Home Minister sacked the incumbent CBI Director. The next appointee, a decent soul, was fettered with a DIG ranked officer who reported to the Home Minister freely. He selected an ambitious officer on deputation from Rajasthan, corrupt and venal who got the trial courts to close all trials against her and her retinue. He hoped to attain senior rank for services he rendered. He did, in 1989. But the dice turned and as senior DIG, this officer was trapped and subsequently convicted. His superior and the Home Minister's confidant remained in the Indian Police Service but that is about all. The Director, too, failed to get more than one year's extension in CBI. But they did allow the rot to become a stench.
I was deeply disturbed, as I approached my retirement, seeing this rottenness spreading. What I clearly saw was that corrupt officers in senior ranks were used by the corrupt political masters. The political masters were acting at the behest of others. No action by the CBI was undertaken. My anguish at the seeming helplessness of the then Director himself made me very angry. On April 25, 1995, a year before I was set to retire, with the consent of Gautam Adhikari then Editor Times of India, a thousand-worded article on the existence of corruption nexus among civil servants, politicians, businessmen, and criminal syndicates appeared in all editions of Times of India. I said CBI is helpless. In 2001 I wrote again in TOI on invitation. Fali Nariman and I wrote why CBI and CVC are not delivering. In my book, 'CBI Inside Speaks', which is replete with instances of interferences, I prefaced "The weak are good fodder for prosecution; the powerful, seldom. This is the increasingly raucous refrain of the Indian criminal system. It is within these restrictive parameters that the CBI must perform". From the 80s when CBI was misused to now it is CBI that itself is misusing its powers, becoming unprofessional and losing its reputation. HC judgment on Aarushi murder case has so many strictures on CBI working! All T V channels are highlighting them and as a guest speaker on these channels it shames me to hear them.
CBI, as I knew it till the 80's, is in the ICU today. The only hope of it survival is the enterprising spirit, technological know-how, ability to multitask, and the robust optimism of Generation Y.
(Shantonu Sen is Former Joint Director, CBI. Views expressed are strictly personal.)

Shantonu Sen

Shantonu Sen

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