CBI rescues Govt?

CBI rescues Govt?

Demand for autonomy for Central Bureau of Investigation has resurfaced with the most 'ill timed' raids on DMK leaders within twenty four hours of...

Demand for autonomy for Central Bureau of Investigation has resurfaced with the most 'ill timed' raids on DMK leaders within twenty four hours of their withdrawal from the UPA II coalition Government. The CBI which is supposed to be subordinate to Prime Minister is now under attack from all the sides including the leaders and rulers of coalition. To understand the situation, three statements must be studied. One is that of Prime Minister, second from the Finance Minister Chidambaram and third is from the CBI itself. The three cannot be defended, but each needs an explanation in the backdrop of coalition politics, collective responsibility of cabinet in UPA-II coalition, and criminal justice system. 1. The Prime Minister Manmohan himself says it was unfortunate. His words are: We are all upset at these events. The government had no role in this that I am sure of. We will find out the details. This should not have... [happened]. The timing of the raid is most unfortunate." 2. The statement of Chidambaram: "I strongly disapprove of the CBI action. Whatever be the reason� it is bound to be misunderstood. I have conveyed my views to the Minister in-charge [Minister of State for Personnel and Training V. Narayanasamy]." 3. The CBI said the "operation was strictly in accordance with procedures and there was no intention whatsoever to target any particular individual." The cases pertained to a complaint regarding import of 33 vehicles in Tamil Nadu and their sale in violation of import provisions, causing a loss of up to Rs. 48 crore to the exchequer, it added. It is pathetic that we hear such words from the top most leaders of the present Government. What was unfortunate is it to conduct a raid on corrupt political masters for their corruption or not raiding them at all? It is unfortunate that in our Republic, the law will not take its course but the head of the nation diverts its course according to 'time' and 'need'. Time and need are not greater than 'whims and fancies'. If the law has to act according to these factors it will be unfortunate 'rule' by Manmohan Singh and not rule of law. To further analyse the statement of the Prime Minister, not only the PM but the whole nation is upset with the sudden event which will also upset the process of law and expectation of the people that guilty will be booked even if he is politically highly placed. Manmohan Singh means that his government had no role in either raiding or stopping the raids against DMK leaders. Governance should include the initiatives to curb political corruption and functioning of the police or CBI on the basis of complaints they received and investigation they conducted. According to Manmohan Singh, representatives from Opposition they should not do anything if they have strong information of commission of a crime by the leaders. They have to read the newspapers and refrain from raiding the leader accused of these crimes if he withdraws the support to ruling coalition. Or they should inform the PMO or any political boss of ruling coalition and if they do not raid their houses, it will be uncomfortable for them politically and the government even might fall for lack of enough strength to rule. And that is autonomy of CBI! Let us suppose that Chidambaram exercised great deal of democratic analysis and rightly disapproved the action of the CBI. But if he disapproves the action of CBI, he should discuss it in the cabinet and go to the bottom of case, before addressing the media. He preferred to inform the minister in charge but not the Prime Minister under whom the CBI works. Nor the PM takes it seriously and convenes a cabinet to discuss if really an 'unfortunate' thing happened and government was not involved,
The CBI also does not prepare well to present its prime reason for the raid and its great timing. The CBI claimed that they strictly followed the procedure and like 'accused' they also say that they had no intention to target a particular political leader. How far this 'disclaimer' saves the organizational credibility of the reputed CBI? In fact, the charge of CBI was proved when they have discovered and seized 33 foreign cars. A leader, Mr. Stalin, who claims to be people's leader does not pay tax on such a huge fleet of luxury cars from foreign countries and most unfortunately gains all the sympathy from every corner including the head of the government and lead of opposition. The loss to the exchequer is Rs. 48 crore because of these transactions. From these incidents it is clear that CBI continues to be without any iota of autonomy, as rightly perceived and understood by the Government, the opposition and the people including media. Then what about autonomy of the Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues and the Government as a whole? Do they have any element of autonomy in their functioning? Why the coalition partners did not meet and discuss this issue? In the name of bad timings and political backlash, the CBI or the Police are not acting as per law against the wrongdoers especially when they are in high positions like A Raja, Stalin, etc. The investigation and prima facie establishment of the possibility of crime will not have any impact on the legal consequences that should necessarily follow. This is exactly where we need an independent institution such as the Lokpal to supervise the investigations, arrests and prosecutions irrespective of their support to coalition or its withdrawal. It will be a face saving for the powerless governments like what we are seeing today. It is most unfortunate that the ruling parties either sponsor the public interest litigation to secure the prosecution of their 'colleagues' or wait eternally for someone to do it for their benefit. They totally dependent on the judicial institutions to launch the prosecution of accused political criminals. Most of the times debate pertains to 'political motive' behind the arrest, registration of case and prosecution in the courts also, and it will be very difficult for the courts to distinguish political motive of accuser and actual criminality of accused. When the political malice or prosecutor conflicts with actual malice of accused, the beneficiary will be culprit and victim is the 'law and society'. The Lokpal institution which is expected to serve in such conflict situation is yet to be created. People are rightly demanding that the investigation wing of the CBI should be placed under the Lokpal and all the CBI's well- defined wings: the Anti-Corruption division; Economic Crimes division; and Special Crimes division should function in an integrated manner and not in water tight compartments, which was also supported by Prakash Singh, who is championing the cause of autonomy for investigation agencies. The writer is Professor and Coordinator, Center for Media Law and Public Policy, NALSAR A University of Law, Hyderabad OPINION
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