TWO news items last week exposed the CBI’s double standard. One was about the CBI looking into the Soharabuddin encounter case and the other, the investigating agency imploring the Supreme Court to acquit Jagdish Tytler, accused in the 1984 genocide of Sikhs. Though it is the duty of the CBI to investigate, it suppressed the evidence against Tytler, and told the Supreme Court that it did not have sufficient evidence. It must be noted that victims in the encounter were Soharabuddin and his wife, Sohrabuddin-a criminal against whom many cases were pending in courts, while those in 1984 were innocent Sikhs, whose only fault was that they belonged to the same religion as that of the killers of Indira Gandhi. The BJP has accused the Congress party of misusing the CBI for political purpose. It is now the duty of the people in democracy to look into the charge made by the BJP, the main Opposition party at present.
That, Jagdish Tytler is a Congressman, is not a secret; and that despite allegations of massacre of Sikhs, the Congress has been supporting him is clear from its track record. Tytler was a minister at the Centre for many years even after the massacre. In the same way the party’s hatred of the BJP ministry in Gujarat, and in particular, against its chief minister Narendra Modi is also well known. Consequently, though Sohrabuddin Sheikh is an inter-sate criminal, the Congress is all for supporting Soharabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin to punish the persons who are allegedly responsible for the encounter. It must be noted that police from not only Gujarat but also from Rajasthan were after the dreaded criminal and his wife Kauserbi. In 1995, Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s name figured in the Gujarat police record for the first time in connection with the recovery of firearms and explosives from Jharania of Madhya Pradesh. Consequently, he was arrested by the ATS and sentenced to five years of imprisonment. In 2004, Sohrabuddin with a gang of 11 others was arrested for firing at the office of Popular Construction in Navarangpura in Ahmedabad. It was alleged that Sohrabuddin and his men killed Udaipur gangster Hamid Lala. In 2005 the Andhra Pradesh police helped the Gujarat police in arresting Soharabuddin, while he was travelling from Hyderabad to Sangli by a bus. The BJP President Nitin Gadkari has alleged that the CBI is not interested in arresting the AP police as there was the Congress government of YSR Reddi at that time in AP. He has also said that the Congress is using the CBI as a weapon against Opposition MPs. It starts a CBI enquiry to pressurise opposition MPs when they are aggressive and slows down the enquiry when they bow down to its wishes. This was clear when the Cut Motion was put to vote in the Parliament in its Budget session at the beginning of this year. Mayavati’s men, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav did not vote against the UPA government and subsequently the disproportionate assets case against these MPs is going slow.
People could very well have ignored the allegations made by the BJP saying that they are motivated in interests of the party, but they should not ignore them, in nation’s interests, when made by many others, particularly by persons like former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee and past officers of the CBI itself. I am therefore requesting all patriotic persons to take into consideration the following facts:
The Samajvadi Party Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh had asked for a Judicial Inquiry, in stead of the CBI investigation, into his alleged disproportionate assets following a Supreme Court order in 2007. The SC order was issued in the case of a PIL by a Congressman. Mulayam Singh Yadav had rightly said: “The CBI has become an arm of the ruling Congress and lost all credibility and trust to conduct a fair probe.” The track record of the functioning of the CBI vindicates what Mulayam Singh had said about the premier investigating agency. A few days before the last parliamentary elections Rahul Gandhi had answered in a television interview that every government at the Centre misused the CBI for its political purpose, thereby vindicating the allegation made against the Congress party.
The former Director of the CBI, U S Mishra had admitted that the autonomy of the country’s premier investigating agency was a myth. “Every time a case is registered, phones start ringing and influential people start putting pressure” Mishra had stated (ToI-April 15, 20005).Pressure was brought on the former Director of the CBI, Umashakar Mishra when he was due for retirement and he was promised good posts after his retirement in return for going soft on Lalu, according to a report in Navabharat (April 15, 2005). According to the Free Press Journal (November 23, 2004), the former Director of the CBI, Joginder Singh said: “During my tenure, a senior minister of the then ruling party told me to go “soft” on former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in the multi-crore fodder scam “. Y P Singh, a former IPS officer, who has studied also Law, has written a book Vultures in Love which exposes corruption in the CBI. Former Prime Minister V P Singh had stated that Chandraswamy was acquitted in the St Kitts case due to the bungling by the CBI (Navabharat – 26-10-04).
The Supreme Court had censured the CBI for the delay in arresting Pappu Yadav in the case of the murder of the CRM’s Ajit Sarkar (ToI – October 9, 2004). After the Law Minister Hansraj Bhardwaj manoeuvred to see that Quattrocchi’s London accounts were defreezed in early 2006, there was severe criticism in the media about the role of the CBI and the government. The Indian Express said in its editorial, “Centre’ Bureau” (January 18, 2006) that the premier investigating agency functions as the cat’s paw of the government. It had also said that “If Abu Salem had a political godfather, CBI would have argued that he should stay in Lisbon.”
In its edition of the next day the newspaper had news entitled, “In London, CBI gave clean chit to Q; to Delhi court, it said opposite”. The title of the editorial in the FPJ (January 13, 2006), “Quattrocchi controls New Delhi – again” is also very suggestive. The newspaper has also a report, which said: A person like Quattrocchi should have been caught like gangster Abu Salem and brought to India.
Former Attorney General of India, Soli Sorabjee had written in his Sunday column of the IE (January15, 2006), under the heading “The Quattrocchi Coup”: Quattrocchi’s bank accounts containing about 4 million Euros were frozen by the Magistrates Court in London. His appeals to the High Court in London were rejected. The freezing orders were passed on the basis of evidence, which prima facie established Quattrocchi’s connection with receipt of illicit monies from Bofors. It appears that Additional Solicitor General B Datta was sent to London to inform the British authorities hat there was no case against Quattrocchi. It is amazing that a law officer should be deputed for this purpose. What is more intriguing is that CBI officials, the investigating agency, were not permitted to accompany Datta. To cap it all, the Law Minister has publicly stated that there is no evidence against Quattrocchi. The sole purpose is clearly to secure defreezing of Quattrocchi’s bank accounts. This is indefensible executive interference with the independent functioning of investigative agencies, in defiance of the judgement of the Supreme Court in the Vinit Narain case. It is significant that Quattrocchi continues to be an accused and the Director of the CBI has stated that the agency intends to pursue his extradition and prosecution. It is scandalous that our fair-minded Prime Minister was kept in the dark about these developments.
In a full two pages article, entitled ” Central Bureau of Inefficiency”, the IE (July 21 2002)Coomi Kapoor and Dalip Singh have explained at length how the CBI works not to investigate all cases but to destroy evidence in some. According to the article, the CBI was at the beginning under the Home Ministry, but Rajiv Gandhi, involved in the Bofors scam, brought it under the PMO.
The CBI had found documentary evidence of dubious foreign exchange transactions of Satish Sharma, a close friend of Rajiv Gandhi and a former Congress MP and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas. However, the CBI sought a Delhi court’s permission to close 15 cases, one being that of irregularities in allotment of petrol pumps-against him, saying it had been denied permission by the Home Ministry to prosecute him (IE- November 2, 2004).
Then, for the second time since the Congress came to power in 2004, the Central Bureau of Investigation had tried to protect Ottavio Quattrocchi’s interests. Subsequently, the CBI allowed Mr. Quattrocchi to walk away with Rs 21 crore after his London bank accounts, which had been frozen in July 2003. The then NDA regime had made out a case that the money was part of the bribes paid by the Swedish arms manufacturer, AB Bofors, to secure the 155 mm gun deal. Now it transpires that the CBI has tried to suppress the information that Mr. Quattrocchi was detained on February 6, 2007 by Argentinian authorities on the basis of an Interpol ‘Red Corner’ notice issued at CBI’s behest in 1997. The Argentinian Government had duly informed our Government through diplomatic channels that one of India’s most wanted criminal was in its custody. In fact, while counting for the Parliamentary election was going on in April 2004, a CBI team of 3 members under the then Additional Director Vijay Shankar, looking into the Quuattrocchi case, rushed back to India from abroad without completing its mission there, as soon as the election results showed that the BJP was trailing behind the Congress (Navabharat – May 16, 2005).
The CBI had started some cases against Maneka Gandhi, Jaya Bachchan and also Najma Hepatulla, thanks to the UPA, but was going slow in the case of Vincent George, Sonia Gandhi’s personal secretary in the disproportionate assets case and also a forgery case. The CBI also did not do anything in the HDW submarines case involving Rajiv Gandhi. The probe into the Ajit Jogi case – bribing Opposition MLAs in Chhattisgarh – was completed long back, but the CBI dragged its feet for obvious reasons. Ajit Jogi, a great loyalist of Sonia Gandhi, was the Congress chief minister of the State.
All this shows that the CBI works as an agent of the ruling party. Some critics jocularly say that the full form of the CBI is the ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’. There was an editorial in the FPL with such title. If we really wish to eliminate or reduce corruption from public life, all patriotic persons, irrespective of their party affiliations, must demand that the CBI must be independent of the Government like the Election Commission. The “Gangotri” of corruption flows from the top and unless this is prevented, that at lower levels cannot stop and the country cannot progress in any field, since corruption is at the root of all our nation’s problems including communalism and terrorism.
(The writer can be contacted at 21/33 Sagar Aptt. Link Rd., Lokhandwala Cx. Andheri(W) – Mumbai 400 102)