Silent squawk of a 'caged parrot'
Those who have known and tracked the patchy career of Former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha are not surprised by his indictment by a Supreme Court-appointed panel which has held that prima facie there was an attempt to influence the investigation into the major coal block allocation scam. The charges of misdemeanor against the former CBI chief exploded just before he was retiring two years ago, after senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan submitted in court a visitors’ logbook, maintained at the official residence of the former CBI chief. Bhushan also alleged that the visitors” log of 2013 and 2014 showed meetings, “several of them late at night, at his residence with several accused persons in prominent cases like Coal scam, 2G scam, and with Hawala operators’.
“Diary gate” story first broke on September 2 that top officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group met the then CBI director at least 50 times in 15 months at his official residence at 2 Janpath. Explosive logbook revealed the names of some other big industrialists, politicians, and bureaucrats which brought back the focus at the possible nexus between the former CBI chief and lobbyist to scuttle the investigations into the massive scams.
However, this was not the first incident of the allegations against the former CBI chief. Sinha began making headlines in the 1990s when he was a DIG posted in Patna and was part of the team probing the fodder scam in which two Chief Ministers - Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagannath Mishra - were suspects. Sinha was accused of trying to scuttle the investigation to help Lalu and diluting charges in a status report presented to the Patna High Court which was monitoring the case. When the court discovered the alleged bungling, it ordered Sinha's removal from the case. Sinha and the other CBI officers apologised to the state Legislative Assembly, which in turn decided to drop legal proceedings against them in 1996.
Earlier in 2014, the Supreme Court directed Ranjit Sinha to recuse himself from all investigations into the 2G spectrum allocation case. With just 12 days left to his retirement, this was yet another blow to Sinha after the Supreme Court removed him from the 2G scam case, saying the allegations against him of protecting some accused appeared to be "prima facie credible". Ranjit Sinha cannot forget the Supreme Court's direction to recuse him from 2G investigations as it brought forth the second instance in his career where he was taken off a case while participating in the investigation. The 1974-batch IPS officer was shifted out of investigations in fodder scam way back in 1996.
Making a damning observation, the Supreme Court once called the CBI a “caged parrot” and it effectively delivered a vote of no-confidence in him when it observed that “all was not well” with Sinha’s stewardship of the agency. The fact that the apex court decision came just before his retirement posed a huge question mark about Sinha’s entire tenure. While people would like to remember his stint as one where the Supreme Court ended up describing the premier investigating agency as a “caged parrot”, the truth is that it became a parrot perhaps because Sinha wanted it to behave like one.
For those who believe in justice and fairness, it is a matter of grave concern that the India’s premier investigating agency faced such a crisis of credibility due to likes of Sinha who have left behind an already damaged institution in a state of further despair.