The Supreme Court’s admonition of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to stay autonomous and not take orders from its political masters speaks volumes on the systemic crisis plaguing the Indian governance at present. While the judiciary is turning out to be the last bastion of hope, increasingly the ‘erosion of faith’ in the executive and legislative bodies of the government seems to be reaching a point of no return. Now with the apex court clearly coming out against the nexus between the reining government and the top investigative agency in the country, what had been long known to be the obvious but hidden truth has been now been placed out in the open. In fact, it did not need CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s helpless restatement saying that he did not do anything out of order by sharing the draft report on coal block allocation scam with law minister Ashwani Kumar and other government officials of the PMO and law ministry because the CBI was a part of the government. It is laughable that this admission comes in the wake of the hornets’ nest of scams and swindles having been stirred, and not before the current spate of crises befalling the reigning establishment.
The criticism from the apex court should however drill in some sense into the minds of those occupying top posts at the country’s highest probe organisation. The Supreme Court bench’s latest castigation of the CBI, which was undertaken ‘so that the premier organisation restores its position of impartiality … and enhance its credibility’ was a necessary exercise and a step in the right direction. The history of CBI interrogations has clearly demonstrated that the ire of the country’s top probing body has always landed on those who have fallen out of favour with the ruling party, be it Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati or even Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Karunanidhi. The ferocity of the investigations have always been directly proportional to the extent of displeasure that the opposition or the recalcitrant ally has caused to those who are in the seat of power, both at the centre and the state levels. Not only were the probes coincident with the making or breaking of political alliances, the harshness of the sentences have also been proportional to the distance from the state government. Most unfortunately, distortion of facts and staging of allegations have also been pretty common in the goings-on of the so called autonomous and impartial body of investigation, that is now calling itself a part of the government. The court’s verdict that the entire process of investigation has been fundamentally shaken by the revelations in the coal scam probe, with the government tweaking and readjusting reports to absolve its top brass from the blame, attests to the core of corruption and collusion that has been rotting the system from within. The administrative control over the CBI is not only a blot in the face of the nation, but shows absolute disregard of wider public sentiments such as trust, respect and integrity.