The Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) is gradually morphing into a non-credible and tainted agency. It won’t be long before the CBI is deemed as a “club of politically manipulated officers and a spineless department”. The sudden and completely unexpected closure of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s disproportionate asset case some days back (the CBI claims that his CAs were able to explain how the assets grew so phenomenally in the 12 years leading to 2005 because of loans given by relatives that were claimed to be gifts) is just one instance that proves this fact. Of course, this move from CBI (that its director Ranjit Sinha claims followed a “transparent” check. “We are being very transparent about all cases including this and are ready to stand any legal scrutiny,” said he to the press) coincides with Yadav extending his political hands to the ruling government, and the lack of proper investigation in the 2G Spectrum and Commonwealth Games (CWG) corruption cases (these two scams do have participants from the UPA circle).
Today, CBI has become synonymous with an agency that is politically manipulated and used, reused and abused at large. Tales of the weak-willed and soft nature of CBI are told and retold in modern Indian political corridors. There is enough proof that in recent past, the nodal agency has apparently been used to settle big political scores. Think of these cases handled by the CBI – case against YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) chief Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy (disproportionate asset case), case against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Kumari Mayawati (disproportionate asset case), the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case (to trap incumbent government in Gujarat), case against the Reddy brothers (arrested as they were reportedly close to BJP), and many more. And of course, all this is in addition to the manner in which the incumbent government uses CBI to conceal its wrongdoings like saving Jasbir Singh (in the Tytler case) and Sajjan Singh. So misused is CBI that the Supreme Court once said, “It has to be borne in mind that the purpose of these proceedings is essentially to ensure performance of the statutory duty by the CBI and the other government agencies in accordance with law for the proper implementation of the rule of law. To achieve this object a fair, honest and expeditious investigation into every reasonable accusation against each and every person reasonably suspected of involvement in the alleged offences has to be made strictly in accordance with law. The duty of the Court in such proceedings is, therefore, to ensure that the CBI and other government agencies do their duty and do so strictly in conformity with law. In these proceedings, the Court is not required to go into the merits of the accusation or even to express any opinion thereon, which is a matter for consideration by the competent Court in which the charge-sheet is filed and the accused have to face trial. It is, therefore, necessary that not even an observation relating to the merits of the accusation is made by the Court in these proceedings lest it prejudices the accused at the trial. The nature of these proceedings may be described as that of `continuing mandamus’ to require performance of its duty, by the CBI and the other Government agencies concerned...” Thinking heads in CBI must be reminded of this quick historical caution passed by the highest court in our country in the ‘Union of India and Ors. v. Sushil Kumar Modi and Ors. [(1997).4.SCC.770]’ case.