A few years back, a packed courtroom of the Supreme Court sat in rapt silence when Justice R. M. Lodha lambasted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as a “caged parrot” and “its master’s voice”. Much water has flowed down the Yamuna since the apex court reproved the investigating agency. The then government, which was at the receiving end of the apex court, too was replaced. But the ‘parrot in the cage’ remains there with an additional infirmity of its wings clipped. The recent disclosures about the agency by none other than its own top officers expose the widespread rot gnawing into the prime investigative organ of the Central Government.
A Deputy Inspector General of the CBI, in an application, reportedly told the Supreme Court that several top functionaries of the Narendra Modi government including a Minister, the National Security Adviser and the Central Vigilance Commissioner have been interfering in the functioning of the agency. Terming the agency as a Centre for Bogus Investigation, the senior officer has laid bare a caucus of top persons in the government who have tried to derail proper investigation in several cases. In another shocking revelation, the ‘exiled’ CBI Director Alok Verma himself has reportedly stated that its former joint director Rakesh Asthana, the Prime Minister’s office and Bihar BJP leader Sushil Modi worked together to pin down Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad in the infamous fodder scam cases. These exposures, coming from the horses’ mouth, reiterate what had been in the public realm: Every government investigating agency, without any exception, is destined to indulge in ‘dirty tricks’ assigned by its political master.
Further proof for the crisis of credibility and overpoliticization of the CBI came when, in a rare instance, the Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal governments issued orders withdrawing permission to the investigating agency automatically taking up cases in the two states. Their decision was prompted by ‘credible suspicion’ that CBI was indulging in vendetta prompted by the Central government. It is to be noted that Chief Ministers of both these States have become the fulcrum of Opposition unity in the country. Of late, they have been going hammer and tongs against the Centre and working tirelessly for putting up a united opposition to take on the BJP in the next general elections.
It is unthinkable that the elitist investigating agency would become an instrument in the hands of the government to pin down its detractors and opposition party leaders. The cliché ‘law will take its course’ has become a redundant expression. The law is not taking its course; it is taking a course decided by its political masters. It won’t be wrong to argue that the script for CBI action in many sensational cases is written and directed by the mandarins of the Central Government. The CBI officers have apparently been reduced to players who cannot act independently. The arm-twisting of the agency has become so evident that the Supreme Court Chief Justice recently said in an open court that the exposures by the CBI officers do not shock them anymore. Nevertheless, making CBI a ‘slave’ in the fiefdom of politicians does not auger well for the largest democracy in the world.(Published on 26th November 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 48)