Editorial

Has CBI become Controlled Bureau of Investigation?

It may be recalled that on January 9, the Supreme Court of India upheld the petition filed by Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Kumar Verma against his summary sidelining in a midnight operation on October 23, 2018, and reinstated him. On January 10, Verma assumed charge once again as the CBI director and promptly reversed the transfer orders served on officers considered close to him in his absence.

Later that evening, the selection committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge and Supreme Court Justice A K Sikri in a 2-1 decision decided to remove Verma in the wake of an adverse Central Vigilance Commission report and shunted him out to an insignificant posting. But it was a selection committee but not a removal committee.

Unfortunately, AK Verma is the first CBI director to face such action in the Bureau’s 55-year history. in fact, Alok Verma underestimated the gravity of the situation and it is alleged by the Modi that he did not perform his duty on time. While the Supreme Court in 1993 issued guidelines on how the investigating agency’s autonomy and independence can be preserved.

Establishment alleged that Verma could have gone to the Central Vigilance Commission or the prime minister’s office to take brief as to how to go ahead. It is further alleged that instead of that he started playing politics within the department, which no head of the institution should be doing, but this would have changed its very objective of the creation of the Central Bureau Investigation into a Controlled Bureau of Investigation to a political game plan playing agency.

Since Prime Minister abused CBI’s by creating number 2 Rakesh Asthana in CBI set up and to put breaks upon its director Verma who was also investigating many issues against the PM from 2002 and even the pulling down the Babri Masjid conspiracy issues besides those ran away from India with public monies.

In fact Verma was going stright into the investigation as per CBI norms, Beacuse of day today inverference by PMO into CBI’s autonomous functioning, even if he had problems with his number 2 Rakesh Asthana, he could have not handled it very maturely.

Alok Verma estimated the gravity of the situation and just performed his duty on time. Equally responsible for this crisis is the PMO who had a panic reaction on the night of October 23. It constrained Alok Verma to move the Supreme Court with his petition along with Prashant Bhushan and others, their concern was the procedure has not been followed. Procedure in terms of the selection committee power whether he can be transferred or not.

The Supreme Court took two months to decide on this simple thing. What the Supreme Court said now could have been said two months earlier. They have not said anything new in their order. The Supreme Court court categorically condemned the government for taking those actions.

The order also had 17 references to the Vineet Narain judgment. The court stuck to the original Vineet Narain guidelines where the tenure is fixed and the government cannot remove the CBI director. That was the stand the government took. The Supreme Court also gave clear instructions to Alok Verma that he will not take any major policy decisions.

In a way, the apex court sent Alok Verma back to the CBI. It is not proper for the Executive to make him waited for the Committee to scan the Judgement of the Apex Court. If the Committee were to find out whether he is guilty or not. Thus it got nullified the very judicial review by the Executive, while the so-called Committee too had the representative of the apex court, which is an administrative action inferior to the judicial review and the nature of ruling is a Decree by itself which is not reversible by the executive action.

Verma’s canceling the previous transfer orders was within in domain he did this within a day of being reinstated, and that created panic as the government felt this guy has gone out of hand and he can go back to judiciary or judiciary can take up the matter suo-motto in the larger interest of the implementation of law in letter and spirit.

Now Alok Verma has not been removed by the government, but by the appropriate, authorised, committee which also has a representative of the Chief Justice of India. To say that the government has removed Alok Verma.

In spite of the fact that the Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge has given a note of dissent by saying the Opposition party does not agree with this, the Supreme Court judge has given a nod for Alok Verma’s removal, which gave credibility to the committee’s decision, but put it into reverse gear when Supreme Court judge refused to accept the post-retirement posting proposed by the Government. In fact, it was offered by the Government prior either prior to sitting in the Committee or it was premeditated.

More than that, the government erred in giving another posting to Alok Verma by sending him as director general of fire services, civil defense and home guards. Though it is not very convincing, it, however, surprised the subjects of this great nation.

It was neither a selection process or disciplinary process against the CBI chief. This adds to fuel to the fire that three successive CBI directors have been found incorrupt moral practices. There are many major lacunae in the system of the CBI chief’s appointment. A thorough investigation needs to be done before appointing anyone to such a post as he is appointed by the prime minister of India, leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. The appointment of the head of the premier investigation agency of the country turns out to be a corrupt man, similar to the cases of A P Singh, Ranjit Sinha.

Now Alok Verma is also under a shadow. There is no meaning in the judiciary should be part of the selection process, it should recuse itself from a selection of the CBI chief selection or removal as it is not its job. Every learned person opposes to this kind of appointments as the judiciary is becoming a party in selection process sitting along the side of the executive and the legislature, then the guy turns out to be corrupt, then where does a citizen go to redress his grievance or complain to? Thus the CBI’s image has taken a huge beating. No doubt that the CBI’s clean image is over for now.

Who will be the new director now and how will he restore its image is the very crucial question, while the Prime Minister will be the same person whose alleged corruption cases are under the scanner of the CBI. The CBI’s image is right now totally damaged, as the different states are now saying they will not allow the CBI, not to enter their territory. Due to government frequently interfering into the working of the CBI, this new development in one of the Institution of the Ombudsman this is despite some of the states ruled by Opposition parties are not allowing the CBI to enter.

In an election year, there should be no prosecution or interrogation of or punishment to any major political parties. Let the CBI, go ahead with its very aim in the first four years of the existing governance.

In the last year when you use the CBI, then it means you are pressurising opponents and arm-twisting them. And this has been done by successive governments. It was done by the Congress in the past and now the BJP is doing it.

The Telugu Desam, Trinamul Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have been alleging that the central government is arm-twisting regional parties whenever they want to pass a bill in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. And regional parties get notices from the CBI, Income Tax etc every now and then and the CBI continues to be an instrument of political blackmail since 1993.

At least in an election year, no grilling of political leaders should take place, to take action after the hustings and the successive government takes over and the CBI should be very instrumental during the last four to find the guilty and punish him. For this, the Judiciary also needs to reorganise or revamp the judicial system to work as per the exigencies of the nation.