Thursday, February 12, 2009

CBI acting under the influence

In earlier cases such as the case dealing with Quattrochi and Bofors, or the murder case against Shibu Soren, it was pretty evident that the Congress Government at the Center was quite familiar with the idea of not treating everybody as equal before the law. If a person was needed by the Government or was close to it, it was pretty evident that the case would be weakened, or allowed to die a slow death by not fighting it as strongly as the Government would fight a case where the person facing the case was opposed to the Government. And this is not something that Governments shirk from doing, earlier Governments and State Governments also do the same thing, but they rollback when faced with pressure from the media or from the courts.
However, in the above cases and in many other cases, it was like the Government was willing to brazen out the outcry and continue with its actions; and in cases, you will see how they have succeeded. In the Bofors case, all the outcry eventually fizzled out, in the Shibu Soren case, the case was so badly weakened that the High Court let him go.
And now you have this case about the disproportionate assets of Mulayam Singh and his family. The case seems to have followed the graph of the closeness of the politician to the Congress Government. When Mulayam was distant from the Congress, the CBI followed the case as per a complaint from a Congress worker. However, when the Congress needed Mulayam to provide critical support at the time of the nuclear deal, it was pretty clear that the CBI case would start to weaken, and so it happened; the Government suddenly decided that it has re-evaluated the case and has decided not to proceed. However, the Supreme Court is not amused, and has castigated the Government and the CBI on its flip-flop:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up CBI for "acting at the behest" of the Centre in the disproportionate assets case against former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. "You (CBI) are acting at the behest of Central Government and the Law Ministry. You are not acting on your own," a Bench comprising Justice Altmas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph said.
Amid allegations of Centre trying to bail out the former UP CM, the investigating agency replaced Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium with Parasaran to represent it. The decision to replace Subramanium with Parasaran had also surprised the Bench which made it clear that it will not allow any last minute changes in counsel. However, the investigating agency during the hearing on January 6 was criticised by the Bench which had said it would not like the agency to become an instrument of the government.

This is perfect; however, when the Government of the day is not interested, then even the Supreme Court cannot ensure that the investigation is carried out properly and as per law. As a result, it becomes more difficult for other parties to believe the intentions of the Government and hurts the overall judicial and law environment in the country. It may soon come to pass that the CBI is made more distant from the control of the Government.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:12 AM