Will CBI’s Future Get Modi-fied?
With many high-profile cases hanging fire and deep divisions within the country’s main investigative agency on the fate of prominent cases like coal allocation scam, CBI's approach under a new political dispensation would be closely watched
“What has a change in the government got to do with the Central Bureau of Investigation?” Sitting in his North Block office, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha asks, apparently aghast at the question on whether the agency will be changing its colours under a possibly new BJP government. Castigated by the Supreme Court as a “caged parrot” and labelled by the BJP in the last decade as the “Congress Bureau of Investigation,” such a perception does not seem completely misplaced. “It is perhaps due to the bad public image that it is felt that the CBI toes the line of the government in power. But that’s not the case; we are answerable only to the court of law,” Sinha tells ET. But with many high-profile cases hanging fire and deep divisions within the CBI hierarchy on the fate of prominent cases like the coal allocation scam and the Aircel-Maxis matter getting exposed, CBI's approach in these matters under a likely new political dispensation would be closely watched. ET takes a look. closed by the agency. A CBI investigator has already recommended -- on record -- to examine Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the matter, to which the CBI boss has not acceded so far. Will the agency reach Singh's doorstep after he steps down as PM? There is no chargesheet in the big scam in the purchase of VVIP choppers despite a CBI probe stretching for over a year now; CBI top officials are saying no money trail of the kickbacks has been traced, making any charges unlikely as of now. But a parallel trial in Italy has thrown up some sensational revelations, including an unverified document pointing to names like Sonia Gandhi and her political advisor, Ahmed Patel. CBI has so far maintained that it has not found any links of the scam to any Indian politicians and has only booked a former Air Chief in the FIR. But some high-profile personalities like CAG Shashikant Sharma have been questioned, and Governor BV Wanchoo and MK Narayanan will be quizzed too.
Mayawati DA Case
Ahead of July 15, when the Supreme Court will hear why the CBI did not lodge a fresh FIR for disproportionate assets against BSP leader Mayawati, the agency had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on April 30 saying there’s no fresh material available with it to file a new FIR and the earlier probe material collected by it “no longer exists as evidence” as the apex court had quashed its original FIR in the DA case. This is a big relief for May- awati who had been grappling with the case for a decade now and has earlier blamed the NDA government for foisting the case on her. All eyes will be on the SC on July 15 to see whether it will accept the CBI's contention. CBI has given Narendra Modi's man Friday, Amit Shah, a clean chit in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, telling a court in Ahmedabad recently that there’s no sufficient pros- ecutable evidence against him. But CBI’s charges against Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter cases are still hanging fire. A special CBI court is still to frame charges on count of murder and criminal conspiracy in both matters against Shah who has meanwhile filed a petition in court asking him to be discharged from both cases for want of evidence. Top BJP leader Arun Jaitley has said that CBI's charge sheet in this matter is “unsustainable”. CBI has so far maintained that it will back its case against Shah in the court. The court's final view on this could be known as early as the end of May. The entire CBI probe team, including its Director of Prosecution, wants DMK politician and former Union Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran to be charged in the Aircel-Maxis case, but CBI Director Ranjit Sinha overruled them and sent the matter for legal opinion to the Attorney General (AG) saying the evidence does not seem enough for a charge sheet. The Supreme Court has now posted the matter for August when the opinion of the AG will be known. Sinha told ET that he “merely exercised his right” of referring the matter for legal opinion.“Difference of opinion within the CBI team is the strength of the organisation as it gives every officer the freedom to record his opinion. The unfortunate part is when such internal notings get leaked,” Sinha says.