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Opinion
Use of CBI as political tool undermines its integrity
By Brij Bhardwaj
Central Bureau of Investigation, a premier investigating agency of India will have its hands full in the next nine months with large number of cases involving senior political leaders of India falling in its lap. In addition it also has to follow up corruption cases involving present Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Veerbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupindra Singh Hodda, top leaders of West Bengal Trinumal Congress and many leaders of AIDMK ruling faction in Tamilnadu to name the few.

The CBI will also have to investigate charges levelled by former Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra against Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal and his family members and allegations against Robert Vadara, son-in-law of Congress party Chief Sonia Gandhi. In addition it has to complete prosecution in cases involving BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi in connection with demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and Lalu Parasad in connection with Fodder scam.

CBI not only has to deal with top political leaders in courts and investigate them for alleged acts of corruption but also two of its former chiefs under the direction of the Supreme Court of India. The outcome of all these cases will have a big fall out is not in doubt. There are also big question marks on the ability of Courts to complete the trials in cases entrusted to them within the stipulated period. They may hold daily hearings and judges hearing the cases will not be shifted, but they have to examine witnesses in large numbers and listen to lengthy oral arguments.

The CBI record in this respect is not very promising as large number of cases have fallen through after decades of investigation and prosecution. With every change of regime in national capital CBI cases start falling apart with witnesses turning hostile. The top court of the country has also not tried to find out why cases involving senior politicians or persons with money or influence drag on for years. Why it has not checked reasons for delays in judicial system. All including top Court have accepted need for appointing more judges, but has not been able to fill even the existing vacancies with large number of names recommended by Supreme Court collegium not accepted by the Government. How about the manpower at the command of CBI?

There is also a need to find out what has been done to compensate people who having suffered for a decade or more in jails have been found innocent by Courts and released. They however lost many years of their productive life and the families suffered damage which cannot be undone. Given the situation prevailing at present one is reminded of years when Janata Dal came to power after defeating Congress party in seventies. A large number of cases were launched against Congress leaders, but they did not help the ruling party which fell through after a brief spell.

What India needs is investigating Agency to improve its record of investigating and convictions instead of creating an impression that it can be manipulated by the party in power. Every political party in power claims that CBI functions independently and the Government of the day does not interfere in its working, but such claims do not carry conviction. Can CBI have independent cadre and given constitutional protection on the lines of Election Commission. It is a tragedy that after there was a political consensus on need for a Lokpal to look into cases of corruption, his appointment has not been made on technical grounds that there is no leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, a argument which has been rubbished by the Supreme Court of India.

The next one year is important for democracy in India as during this period new President of India will to be elected. Many important States like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh will be electing new Assemblies. These state polls will also set the stage for Lok Sabha poll to be held in 2019. It looks that CBI will be a major player in the outcome of the elections in 2019.

The opposition leaders who were working for a joint front to challenge BJP in poll for President will have to spend lot of time and energy in fighting Court cases and investigations by CBI.

—(IFS)

(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)


News Updated at : Friday, May 12, 2017
 
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