Post Mortem

CBI in the cauldron

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/31/2018 1:13:39 PM IST

 (From previous issue)

The Government announced M. Nageshwar Rao, a 1986 batch of the Odhisa Cadre as the Interim Chief of the CBI who is also entangled in various controversies. Most prominent of which is the Hindustan Tele Printers Ltd. Case and the Controversial Uniform Scam in Odhisa besides several other provocative hate speech against religious minorities on various occasions. On assuming charge, Mr. Rao immediately made serious rejig in the setup. Key Figures such as Mr. A K Sharma, Joint Director (Policy) and in charge of Anti-Corruption was transferred to the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency. Mr. A K Bassi, the head of the investigation against Mr. Asthana who was working under Mr. A K Sharma was transferred to Port Blair. Several other officers who were part of the investigation were also transferred while those who were demoted earlier were restored to their position.

All these while, the momentum outside the CBI headquarters was gradually building up. The Congress party had called for a nation-wide protest at the CBI offices across the country. Mr. Verma had moved the Supreme Court and interestingly in his plea, he had stated (Quote) “Certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government” (Unquote). NGO Common Cause led by notable Lawyer and Activist Mr. Prashant Bhushan moved the SC against Mr. Verma’s removal. Mr. Bhushan had earlier, along with former BJP Ministers Mr. Jaswant Singh and Mr. Arun Shourie had written a complaint to the CBI alleging corruption in the Rafale Deal.

The mass protest called by the Congress Party on 26 October 2018 coincided with the hearing called by the 3 Judge bench headed by the CJI Mr. Ranjan Gogoi.

The Congress Party led by its Party President Mr. Rahul Gandhi along with senior leaders from the JDU, the CPI and the TMC furiously thronged the CBI Headquarters at Delhi which was cordoned off by the Delhi Police and Paramilitary forces prompting the arrest of Mr. Gandhi and other key leaders. Several political analysts termed this protest as a huge leap and a great boost for Rahul’s image ever since he took over the presidentship of the Congress Party.

The same day, it also saw the clash of the top legal luminaries of the Country. The Supreme Court in its interim judgment passed a fair and balanced verdict. It did not immediately reinstate Mr. Verma who was divested of his powers. Instead, it directed the CVC to probe over the allegation on Mr. Verma which was to be supervised by retired Justice AK Patnaik and submit its report in two weeks time. This is in a way to strictly ensure that there should not be a jot of suspicion against the CBI Director of any misconduct. Mr. Verma who has a clean track record may consider this as an opportunity to clear the allegations leveled against him by Mr. Asthana. The CVC probe will determine whether Mr. Verma will be acquitted or indicted. Mr. Rao although elevated has been clipped of his wings after the Supreme Court restricted him from taking any policy decisions and to furnish the decision with regard to the transfer of investigation, change of Investigating Officer(s) to the court in a sealed cover. The Court has also directed status quo on Mr. Asthana till the next hearing. Interestingly, Mr. A K Bassi has challenged his transfer to Port Blair in the Supreme Court and has claimed that he has ‘Incriminating evidence’ against Mr. Asthana. However, the court has declined the urgent hearing.

In the event, the CVC gives a credible report indicting Mr. Verma on 12th November. The Court may direct actions against Mr. Verma. Failing to do so on the part of the CVC, the Court is unlikely to give an extension considering the grievousness of the case and Mr. Verma might be reinstated immediately as mandated by the Supreme Court in the Vinnet Narain Judgement.  

The CBI war has dragged in major Government Institutions into its vortex.  Mr. Asthana had earlier named Mr.Alok Kumar Verma and Mr. Rajeshwar Singh, Joint Director of the Enforcement Directorate of trying to tarnish his image. The Government has started a ‘preliminary enquiry’ against Mr. Singh on an allegation of disproportionate assets against him. Meanwhile, BJP leader Mr. Subramanian Swamy has threatened to withdraw from all the cases that he had filed against Mr.P Chidambaram, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, Mr.Rahul Gandhi, and Mr. Shashi Tharoor if Mr. Rajeshwar Singh is removed stating that there is a conspiracy to remove the Joint Director. This also clearly reveals the rift inside the BJP. The enquiry on Mr. Singh is being conducted by the Revenue Department and Mr.Singh has made a scathing attack on Revenue Secretary Mr.Hasmukh Adhia accusing him of ‘stalling his promotion’ and ‘compromising National security’ among others. The PMO, Former Enforcement Directorate Boss Mr. Karnal Singh, National Security Advisor Mr. Ajit Doval are also known to have taken sides.

In 2013, the Supreme Court termed the CBI as a ‘Caged Parrot’ and the recent spat between the Government and the Reserve Bank of India with the latter hinting at more autonomy and less interference from the Government will have grave implications on the Government and unless the ‘Institutional Freedom’ is guaranteed it will have serious ramifications.

The next hearing is scheduled on 12th November 2018 after the Diwali Celebrations. May the light triumph over darkness.

(Concluded)

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