More than any other institution, it is the CBI that the UPA has sought to turn into its handmaiden and a tool for harassing and demolishing political opponents and facilitating benefits for friends and allies. How the premier investigating agency at the behest of the powers that be played a vital role in defreezing the twin British accounts of Italian businessman and Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi within months of the Congress-led UPA taking charge at the Centre is too well known to warrant any repetition. The agency courted controversy yet again in the matter recently when it hid under the wraps for several days information about the arrest of Quattrocchi by the Argentinian police and under public pressure made a feeble, belated and futile attempt to get the fugitive extradited.
The agency'ssullied image got yet another battering recently when the Delhi High Court pulled up its counsel in the appeal against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar'sacquittal in the murder case of a Sikh youth during the 1984 riots.
The counsel was ?too junior to represent the CBI in such a case of serious impact?, the hon?ble court observed.
The CBI'shalf-hearted appeal was not surprising considering the fact that it was filed in 2003 when the NDA was in power and now times have changed.
But the agency continues to remain shamelessly unembarrassed by such developments. It opposed tooth and nail a plea by the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar against the acquittal of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi by a special CBI court in the disproportionate assets case.
Finding itself in an awkward position following the Kolkata High Court'sorder for a CBI probe into the brutal March 14 firing on innocent villagers of Nandigram in West Bengal, the agency within a couple of days of its ?probe? went public asserting it did not find any evidence to substantiate allegations that large number of people were missing from their homes after the police firing or that two women were raped during the violence.
Even as the entire nation watched on television channels with horror the siege of Nandigram by CPI-(M) cadres, the CBI, without batting an eyelid, claimed it found only one .315 inch bullet from the site and that the involvement of some parties [read CPI (M)] other than the police (in the firing) cannot be established. Obviously, with its defeat in Punjab and Uttarakhand, the Congress-led government at the Centre certainly could not afford antagonizing the crucial ?outside? support of the Left parties.
In yet another blot on its reputation, the agency in the first chargesheet filed before a Ghaziabad court slapped lesser charges on businessman Mohinder Singh Pandher and accused his servant Surinder Koli of all murders besides rape and kidnap of the Nithari victims. Pandher is said to be closely related to Punjab Congress leaders.
Shocked families of the victims said Pandher himself had confessed to them his involvement in the crime when they confronted him at the NOIDA police station immediately after his arrest last December. No wonder then that the families have now sought Presidential intervention in the matter.
?It is the political antennae of the CBI that direct the course of its investigation. If the government of the day wants the CBI to bend, it is willing to crawl. If the government wants it to harass a political opponent, the CBI readies for overkill,? says BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley.
The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) was set up as the country'spremier investigating agency with a view to providing justice to the man on the street and bring truth to light in accordance with the national motto ?Satyameva Jayate? (Only Truth Shall Prevail) through unbiased, objective, apolitical and highly scientific methods of investigation. It was meant to serve as an elite force playing a major role in preservation of values in public life and ensuring the health of the national economy.
However, with its avowed mission of denigrating and eroding the credibility of national institutions including the office of the President, the Election Commission, the Parliament, the fourth estate and the office of Governors, the successive Congress governments at the Centre have spared no efforts to undermine the impartiality of CBI also.
The party that shamelessly introduced the draconian Emergency on the country in 1975 throttling all fundamental rights of the citizens has always treated both truth and its advocates with contempt. Among the first casualties of systematic oppression and suppression of the Congress was the Indian media, whose cherished and internationally acclaimed freedom it sought to curb and curtail through censorship.
Harassing its political opponents and protecting its own by misusing the CBI is a dirty game the UPA has been playing ever since it assumed power. One of the most blatant instances of turning the agency into the Congress Bureau of Investigations was the fabricated charges against BJP leader Maneka Gandhi, for apparent reasons.
?Bureaucrats and officials confess they have received directives from the very top. The case they have brought is laughable?CBI is being misused for political vendetta against me,? says Smt Gandhi.
It is, therefore, not at all surprising that the Congress party in Karnataka, which had vehemently opposed the handing over of the Telgi stamp paper scam case to the CBI when the NDA was in power at the Centre, is today clamouring for a CBI probe into the corruption charges against Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, knowing fully well that it would get a report of its choice.
Whether it be the aborted attempts to stall the probe against BSP leader Mayawati or the closure of case against Gandhi family crony Satish Sharma in the petrol pump scam, the CBI has allowed itself to be used as a pliable tool in the hands of the powers that be.
The manner in which the CBI was misused and manipulated during the Emergency and its handling of cases such as Bofors, HDW submarine, Airbus 320, St Kitts, Chandraswamy, Lakhubhai Pathak, JMM and Mumbai Port Trust has tarnished its image and reputation in the past. Its recent acts of omission and commission are unlikely to help in improving that image.
The need of the hour is to take stern measures to restore the agency'scredibility as an effective and impartial organisation in the eyes of the ordinary Indian. One such step could be to enact a law defining the functions and powers of the CBI and laying down guidelines and safeguards to ensure the objectivity and impartiality of the organisation. But the most important step should be the defeat of the Congress party at the hands of the democracy-loving people of India.