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Bofors, Tytler, Maya, Mulayam, Soren - all red dots on CBI report card

Bofors, Tytler, Maya, Mulayam, Soren - all red dots on CBI report card

Author: Political Bureau
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: May 24, 2009
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/PoliticsNation/Bofors-Maya-all-red-dots-on-CBI-card/articleshow/4461499.cms

The CBI's Image As An Independent And autonomous investigative agency, which was impervious to external influences, has once again come under a cloud following revelations that it had sought the withdrawal of the Red Corner Notice against Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian middleman who's an accused in the Bofors bribery case.

The agency's standing has taken a severe beating of late, with even friendly parties of the ruling alliance making common cause with the Opposition in charging it with calibrating its probe in sensitive cases to suit the whims of the forces in power. The impression has credence of late with detached public opinion expressing concern over attempts to undermine its autonomy. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma, in an article published recently in a leading daily, once again made out a strong case for insulating the CBI's functioning from political influences. ``It is sad that even now the CBI continues to disappoint the people whenever it deals with cases against the powerful. The blame can no longer be made elsewhere. It is too much of a coincidence that in sensitive matters, the outcome of the CBI's investigation invariably depends on the political equation of the accused with the ruling power, and it changes without compunction with change in the equation,'' he alleged. There have been several instances in the recent past in which the CBI's decisions raised eyebrows:

o The decision to withhold sanction to prosecute former Union minister Satish Sharma.

o The non-filing of an appeal in the DA case pending against former Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren, who's key ally of Congress.

o The decision to change the public prosecutor in the corruption case pending against railway minister Lalu Prasad, establishment of special bench of the ITAT, refusal to file an appeal and putting roadblocks in the Bihar government's attempts to file the appeal in the DA case.

o The flip-flop on cases relating to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati. The CBI first tried get her off the hook in the Taj Corridor case, but later activated the DA case when she withdrew her party's support to the UPA.

o A similar change in its attitude was visible in the DA case pending against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family members. It took a hostile stance when the SP-Congress relations were bitter, but changed tack after Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav started backing the Manmohan Singh government.

o The closure report filed in the case relating to former Union minister Jagdish Tytler's alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The decision to withdraw the Red Corner Notice against Quattrocchi has fuelled demands for insulating the country's premier investigative agency from political pressure. Accusing the Manmohan Singh government of undermining the autonomy of crucial institutions such as the Election Commission, Rashtrapati Bhawan and the CBI, BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley asserted that, if voted to power, his party would set up a commission of inquiry, to be headed by a Supreme Court judge, to investigate cases of collusion of the CBI with the accused in all sensitive cases and suggest steps to restore and re-establish the agency's autonomy.

While the principal Opposition party has been gunning against the Congress-led alliance for misusing the CBI to suit petty political ends, this is the first time it has brought the investigative agency itself in its line of fire. Coming in the middle of the general election, the latest round of revelations on the attempts to bail out Quattrocchi, known for his proximity to the Congress president, has also given the party another weapon to beat its main political adversary with.

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