Post Mortem

CBI in the cauldron

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/30/2018 12:32:48 PM IST

 The year 2018 unfolded dramatically with the dissent in the Country’s top court wherein four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, one of whom was the incumbent Chief Justice of India held an unprecedented press conference against the arbitrary decisions of the then CJI Mr. Dipak Mishra a fortiori after the case of Justice H. B Loya’s death was assigned to a much junior bench.

Barely nine months in to the year, what surprises us more is that we see an in fighting in one of the country’s premier investigation agency ‘The CBI’. The very agency which people trust more than any other institution. The ‘CBI vs CBI’ pseudonym as carried by the news agencies is not a recent issue. It is the outcome of a feud between the Number 1 and Number 2 of the CBI.

It all started with the appointment of Mr. Rakesh Asthana as the Special Director of the CBI despite objection from the CBI Director which we shall see later.

Dubbed as the ‘Blue-eyed Boy’ of the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi by the Congress President, Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Mr. Asthana, a 1984 batch of the Gujarat Cadre who also headed the probe on 2002 Gujarat Riots is known to have an inclination towards the PM Modi from his days in Gujarat. He is said to be in the good books of the duo Modi & Shah. When Mr.Modi moved to the 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. Mr. Asthana along with a host of other Gujarat Cadres were brought to Delhi. In 2016, Mr. Asthana who was then the Additional Director of the CBI was elevated as the number 2 in the hierarchy after Mr. RK Dutta, who was supposedly in the run for the top post was transferred to the Home Ministry as a Special Secretary three days before Mr. Anil Sinha (Former Director,CBI) retired. Later, when Mr. Sinha demitted his office, Mr. Asthana took over charge as the interim Director of the CBI till Mr. Alok Kumar Verma, a 1979 batch of the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram Cadre was appointed as the Director of the CBI in January 2017.

The first tussle in the CBI came when Mr. Asthana was elevated as the Special Director of the CBI in October, 2017 despite stiff opposition from the CBI Director Mr. Verma over the former’s alleged involvement in the Sterling Biotech Case 2011 and having links with the ‘Sandesaras’ who also offered complimentary services for his daughter’s wedding in Vadodara in 2016 and are accused in the case. Common Cause NGO also challenged the Selection Committee’s decision in the Supreme Court stating that Asthana was unfit to be part of the CBI. Howbeit, the petition was dismissed by the court.

The CBI had on October 15, 2018, filed an FIR and booked Mr. Asthana and other officers under the sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act in the Moin Qureshi Case and this led to the unprecedented raid in its own office leading to the arrest of its officer Mr. Devendra Kumar on October 22.

The opposition parties which had meanwhile been vociferously ranting against the PM over the alleged Rafale Scam saw this thespian as the perfect opportunity to use it as the launch pad in the run-up to the 5 Legislative Assembly elections.

‘The Midnight Coup’ by the PM has been severely criticised by the opposition parties blaming the PM of surreptitiously removing the CBI Director at such odd hours on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission. The Opposition has been pressing that CBI Director had been removed because he was supposed to start the ‘Preliminary Enquiry’ on the Rafale Deal and that the decision to remove the CBI Director is the prerogative of the CJI, PM and the Leader of Opposition and termed the decision to oust the Director as purely unconstitutional. While justifying its decision, the Government has maintained that it is a temporary leave and was done to protect the agency’s integrity.

(To be concluded)

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