We have serious questions about CBI

There are serious questions on working ways of our premier investigating agency the central bureau of investigation lately. The bureau was formed by government of India in 1963 by dividing special police force mainly to investigate war related crimes, corruption and irregularities in supplies of essential commodities. Later at the basis of its expert workforce and excellent results, CBI became the best investigating agency with its reliability and results compared to other investing forces in India. 

Later CBI was again divided into two different divisions namely - 

One- Anti corruption division - to keep an eye on corruption related cases

Two- Special crimes division - to detect serious crimes, the ones state police forces were not able to handle effectively.

Why questions on CBI

Although CBI is responsible to government of India with no direct link with state governments but every opposition party blames ruling party to use this premier agency in ruling party’s favor without taking into consideration that every party worth its name had been part of the ruling party or ruling party itself. That makes the role of the agency suspicious and it could have been more dubious had the state governments been also involved. 

CBI as other government agencies are very much part of government and dependent on central government for appointments, funding, infrastructure therefore cannot stay totally unbiased and that is where its working process comes under public’s scanner. A democratically elected government is responsible to public and not supposed to interfere with independent working process of any government department and least in an investigation agency particularly. On the other hand if we look at the success rate of CBI it’s almost 70% which is far better than any other investigating agency in our country but the results related to political parties and its leaders are not all that impressive which is main reason of its doubtful working process that indicates government’s interference. It was different before emergency period

If we go back before emergency period

You can see that there were few cases of government level interference in pre-emergency period but a few which could at best described as protocol related or recommendations by bigwigs but not beyond that. But after the emergency period the ugly face of politics made its big impact on CBI and its working process as every political leader and party who had influence took full advantage. The process has come down to the extent that director of the agency had to admit it openly “We are part of the government therefore there is no harm if I shared documents with law ministry” despite the fact that law ministry was one of the parties in the concerned case pending in supreme court of India.

After the emergency period

Emergency period changed ways of working of government agencies mainly for five reasons

1- The beginning of coalition governments started the process of creating opportunities of benefits to the partners in government with either delaying the pending enquiries or threatening opposition parties with falls cases.

2- Emergency period was perfect training center to teach public representatives that they could take full advantage at the cost of public and become totally irresponsible.

3- Politics became business suddenly, which used to be public service. This helped develop a caucus in between politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, criminals, etc

4- Judiciary became weaker that effected the ongoing cases of financial scams and corruption.  

5- The worst effect came while the promotions and deputation in the agency depended and loyalty based which changed the entire scenario as every officer waned to remain in good books for his promotion, transfer in preferred places etc. We have clear examples of cases like 2G, Coal blocks, etc, etc to prove our points.

We should expect the changes

As we have been discussing in different forums etc that unless the CBI, the India’s premier investigating agency is not an autonomous body, you cannot expect it to work independently. You will have to free it from the clutches of government and political parties as far transfers, postings, preliminary enquiries, investigation process, and interference in lodging/registering a charge sheet are concerned. Most important point that should be taken into account is the appointment of its director, which should be on the basis of merit. We already have a committee to appoint a director for CBI that works under CVC act- 2003 but the need of the hour is to make it more transparent. 

The present system of interference by ministers and bureaucrats in crucial posts like appointment of director of CBI needs to be abolished with immediate effect. As per the latest directive issued by supreme court of India the CVC, the central vigilance commissioner will keep a strict watch on all pending issues under CBI especially coal block related but as we know that even CVC is not free from allegations and is under the scanner for government interference as much as CBI. As log as allocation of funds, transfers, postings are in government's hands, we should not expect a significant change. 

The disputed cases pending under CBI

1- Bofors case - Pending since long for commission paid to different people for guns purchases.

2- Bhopal gas case – Pending since 1984, in this case almost 15,000 people died but CBI did nothing to bring main culprit Warren Anderson to India.

3- A case against Mulayam Singh - the SP supreme for almost Rs 100 Crore income exceeding known sources, lodged in 200 but CBI gave him a clean chit although it was withdrawn later in 2008 while court intervened.  

4- Fodder scam- There are many politicians involved with this multi billion scam, which is pending for more than 20 years now but CBI never handled it properly. Such cases are used to keep concerned politicians under control by the ruling parties. 

5- Taj corridor – Taj corridor is another example of scams where governments keep concerned politicians under their control to the extent of blackmailing them. As you can see that three different chief ministers are involved in case number 3, 4 and five, who are part of present coalition government despite all the differences of opinions. 

6- 2G spectrum case- 2G was perhaps the biggest scam in India until the Coal block case opened and took over it. According to chief accountant general the money involved in 2G is almost Rs 1 lack and 76 thousands where the minister concerned had to resign. The CBI is said to have tried to save culprits obviously for political reasons. 

Role of Lokpal 

Most people believe that appointment of Lokpal will make a difference on working procedure of CBI, as the lodging of complaints would be a different cell under the CBI director. The director for the new cell will be appointed by commissioner of CVC where as the appointment of director of CBI will be by the team of leader of opposition in parliament, chief justice of India and prime minister. That should solve the issue up to reasonable limit.

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