Spe­cial: With in­fight­ing, cbi faces un­prece­dented drift

Mean­while, ED is also busy fight­ing its own boss

Governance Now - - FRONT PAGE - Ajay Singh ajay@gov­er­nan­cenow.com A ver­sion of this com­ment has ap­peared on First­post.com.

Skele­tons, if kept in the cup­boards of in­ves­tiga­tive agen­cies, are bound to tum­ble out much sooner than later. The cen­tral Bureau of in­ves­ti­ga­tion (cbi) is no ex­cep­tion. The cor­ri­dors of the cbi head­quar­ters in lodhi es­tate of Delhi have been stink­ing as hell as an in­ternecine war is on within the agency.

and the de­struc­tion of the in­sti­tu­tion is fairly as­sured. The lat­est mis­sive to the cen­tral Vig­i­lance com­mis­sion (cvc) by a tour­ing cbi direc­tor alok Varma as­sert­ing his supremacy and ob­ject­ing to the in­duc­tion of IPS of­fi­cials in the cbi in his ab­sence is only the lat­est in a se­ries of such run-ins he has had with his num­ber two, joint direc­tor rakesh asthana, and the cvc. Only two months back, of­fi­cers at the level of Dig and joint di­rec­tors were re­moved much against the wishes of Varma. His ob­jec­tion to the cvc meet­ing for in­duc­tion of fresh of­fi­cers in his ab­sence (Varma was then on tour abroad) is seen as a re­tal­i­a­tion against asthana, who is ex­pected to rep­re­sent the agency in the head’s ab­sence.

This on­go­ing bat­tle, which is quite akin to a gang war, be­gan soon af­ter Varma took over as the cbi direc­tor and tried to in­duct cer­tain of­fi­cials into the agency. spe­cial direc­tor asthana, a Gu­jarat cadre IPS of­fi­cer who had also of­fi­ci­ated as act­ing direc­tor be­fore Varma’s ap­point­ment as full-time direc­tor, is learnt to have re­sisted the in­duc­tion and pointed out du­bi­ous an­tecedents of those of­fi­cers. Though re­garded as an ef­fi­cient of­fi­cer who in­ves­ti­gated the fod­der scam in­volv­ing lalu Prasad, asthana is usu­ally frowned upon by his col­leagues within the agency for throw­ing his weight around on ac­count of his per­ceived prox­im­ity to the gu­jarat BJP lead­er­ship.

Though the post­ings in the cbi got stalled, a war had be­gun. The cbi was flooded with com­plaints about Asthana on the ba­sis of cer­tain mys­te­ri­ous doc­u­ments and a di­ary seized by the en­force­ment Direc­torate (ed) which works un­der the fi­nance min­istry and is headed by another Delhi cadre IPS of­fi­cer, Kar­nail Singh. In this case, Varma and singh ap­pear to be act­ing in tan­dem.

Par­tic­u­larly glar­ing is the ver­ti­cal di­vi­sion that the fight in the top ech­e­lons has caused in the cbi. and all the skills ac­quired by top sleuths and their ju­niors dur­ing po­lice train­ing to fight crim­i­nals are be­ing brazenly de­ployed against one another. Of­fi­cers are be­ing used like pawns and sac­ri­ficed by both the sides, giv­ing an im­pres­sion of an un­prece­dented drift in the cbi. The fact that a pow­er­ful gov­ern­ment headed by Modi is un­able to con­tain this ver­i­ta­ble gang war is an enigma wrapped in a mys­tery.

Per­haps no­body knows it bet­ter than Modi to what ex­tent an un­con­trolled and crim­i­nalised cbi would

sub­vert the gov­ern­ment’s agenda. Dur­ing the upa regime, the agency was used not only to set­tle po­lit­i­cal scores with Modi in Gu­jarat but also fic­ti­tious cases were made up against BJP pres­i­dent amit shah and some state of­fi­cials. Un­der the pro­tec­tive um­brella of the upa gov­ern­ment, the cbi tried to pres­surise shah to give a false con­fes­sion about Modi’s in­volve­ment in the en­counter killing of sohrabud­din sheikh in 2005. That shah stead­fastly re­fused to suc­cumb to the pres­sure is a tes­ti­mony to his for­ti­tude and his com­mit­ment to Modi.

That was not the only case the cbi used to put the gu­jarat gov­ern­ment on mat. in the po­lice en­counter that killed ishrat Je­han and her ac­com­plices in 2004, the CBI made ev­ery ef­fort to bring the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship of the state un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. De­spite the fact that the op­er­a­tion was planned by and ex­e­cuted un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the in­tel­li­gence Bureau (ib), the cbi per­fectly acted as the cat’s paw for the congress gov­ern­ment. in­sid­ers in the gov­ern­ment dur­ing those times would tes­tify that ahmed Pa­tel’s res­i­dence had then be­come a ver­i­ta­ble cbi head­quar­ters, where top sleuths would get to­gether to de­vise strate­gies to en­mesh the gu­jarat po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

This trend con­tin­ued till it be­came ev­i­dent that Modi had a strong pos­si­bil­ity of be­com­ing the prime min­is­ter. The new emerg­ing po­lit­i­cal equa­tions prompted the cbi bosses to halt the vendetta-like probe against Modi and shah. How­ever, like a tiger that never changes his spots, the cbi found its in­flu­ence in a grey po­lit­i­cal space quite grat­i­fy­ing. over the years, the agency seemed to be en­joy­ing the spot­light it got in in­ves­ti­gat­ing scan­dals in­volv­ing top politi­cians, bu­reau­crats and at times even mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary. a sec­tion of the agency’s top of­fi­cers de­vel­oped the no­tion of in­flu­enc­ing the po­lit­i­cal dis­course by mak­ing se­lec­tive leaks to ac­tivist-lawyers. in essence, it would not be wrong to say that the cbi at times has as­sumed a role which is noth­ing short of a ‘deep state’ or a ‘par­al­lel state’.

in­ter­est­ingly, this syn­drome has af­flicted not only the CBI but also the ED in equal mea­sure. look at the man­ner in which the agency has been fight­ing with its boss, fi­nance sec­re­tary Has­mukh Ad­hia, an of­fi­cer known for his unim­peach­able in­tegrity and ef­fi­ciency. like in the last days of the upa gov­ern­ment, the late-night se­cret meet­ings be­tween top sleuths of th­ese agen­cies and their po­lit­i­cal protectors have be­gun in right earnest to de­vise strate­gies to per­pet­u­ate the in­flu­ence of the ‘deep state’.

it would be not wrong to para­phrase shake­speare and say, “some­thing is rot­ten in the state of in­dian bu­reau­cracy.” if Modi, as one of the most pow­er­ful prime min­is­ters in­dia has ever seen, can­not tackle it, the malaise would ul­ti­mately crip­ple the body politic.

Arun ku­mar

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.