WHY THESE APPOINTMENTS WERE QUESTIONED?

CHIEF ELECTION COMMISSIONER ACHAL KUMAR JOTI

Appointed Chief Election Commissioner In July 2017, is in office till January 2018.

Former Election Commissioner and former Chief Secretary, Gujarat (2010-2013).

Was appointed Election Commissioner in May 2015, is a 1975 Batch IAS officer.

It is said he maintains low profile and largely had remained non-controversial before becoming the CEC.

The Opposition is alleging him of working on the government’s behest after delayed announcement of the Gujarat election last year.

He was also accused of bias by Arvind Kejriwal in ‘offices of profit case of 21 AAP MLAs.

ENFOREMENT DIRECTORATE (ED) – DIRECTOR KARNAL SINGH

Appointed ED Director in October 2016, was due to retire in August 2017 but got extension in February last year following a Supreme Court order. He was given a fixed tenure of two years to make it compliant with the CVC Act and accordingly, he will retire in October 2018.

Before it, he was ED Special Director and was holding additional charge of ED Chief.

He is a 1984 Batch IPS officer.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram has accused the ED of abusing power on direction of the Modi Government – ED is probing Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis Case.

CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (CBI) DIRECTOR ALOK VERMA

Former Delhi Police Commissioner, appointed CBI director in January 2017.

From AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories) Cadre.

Before it, Verma had never worked in the CBI, so his appointment was a departure from norms.

The Supreme Court guidelines say the person heading the CBI should have prior CBI experience.

The Government cited his experience in vigilance behind his appointment as the CBI Director.

Congress didn’t support his appointment – The Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge Said “Selection must be made according to law, merit and seniority.”

The three-member panel that selected him included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Mallikarjun Kharge.

Congress was supporting RK Dutta, a senior official from the Ministry of home affairs, saying Dutta had over 17 years of CBI experience.

CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSION (CVC) CHIEF K V CHOWDARY

KV Chowdary was appointed CVC in June 2015, for a term of four years.

He is a former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, 1978 Batch.

Former Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chief, Chowdary’s appointment by the Modi Government was again departure from established norms.

Before Chowdary, all other CVCs, since its inception in 1964, were IAS officers.

His appointment was criticised by Ram Jethmalani and Prashant Bhushan – they raised the point that he lacked credentials for the job

Bhushan wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi where he alleged that Chowdary had visited former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha while the 2G probe was on. All such visits to Sinha by various people during the 2G probe were considered suspicious by the top court.

Bhushan further alleged that Chowdary’s investigation into 2G related tax evasion cases gave clean chit to all, unlike the progresses made by agencies like CBI and ED in other 2G cases.

Bhushan also alleged that Chowdary himself was under suspicion in a stock scam.

Jethmalani also wrote a letter to Modi alleging that Chowdary was totally unfit for the job – he also alleged that Chowdary was involved in a stock scam.

©SantoshChaubey

CBI’S DAMP SQUIBS: CASES THAT PROVED TOO DIFFICULT TO PROVE IN COURT

2G Spectrum Allocation Scam that kept the nation boiled for almost a decade but ultimately proved too difficult for investigators to prove in the court is not the first case that has dragged on for too long before turning into a damp squib. There are cases that directly question the sincerity and credibility of India’s central investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the cases that have shaped the direction of Indian politics but ultimately failed to convince our judicial system, cases that tell us they were more about designs of political masters than about concerns on probity and integrity.

FODDER SCAM – OVER TWO DECADES AND STILL ONGOING

Reports of the scam appeared in January 1996. The Rs 900 crore fodder scam was about siphoning off government money in the name of companies that existed only on papers. The case was transferred to CBI in March 1996. After CBI raided then Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s residence in June 1996, he stepped down the next month but not before installing his wife Rabri Devi in the chief minister’s office. CBI subsequently slapped Lalu and Rabri with disproportionate assets case in August 1998.

The whole case since then since has seen Lalu being jailed, getting bail and even clean chits many times including clean chit in the DA case. Finally, Lalu was convicted in one of the fodder scam cases by a CBI court in Ranchi in September 2013 that disqualified him for six years from political office but he got bail in December 2013. In November 2014, the Jharkhand High Court ruled in his favour by removing conspiracy charges but in a jolt, the charges were reinstated by the Supreme Court in May 2017.

Since the trial is ongoing in the CBI court, Lalu and other convicted in the scam have avenues open in higher courts to challenge their conviction and it will be some time before the final conviction, or for that matter, acquittal, is upheld by the Supreme Court. Given that it is already over two decades in the case, no one can say for how long the case will drag on before any final conclusion.

BOFORS – 1986 TO 2011

The came case to public knowledge in April 1987 after the Swedish Radio claims that bribes worth Rs 64 crore were paid to Indian politicians and defence personnel in the Rs 1437 crore deal between Swedish manufacturer AB Bofors and Government of India for 400 155mm Howitzer guns signed in March 1986.

What followed was over two decades of labyrinthine probe that cost Rajiv Gandhi his government. CBI registered FIR in 1990 but it took nine years for the agency to file first chargesheet in the case when it did so against Win Chadha, an AB Bofors agent, in October 1999. Letter Rogatories were sent and Interpol Red Corner notice was issued. But nothing could help and CBI was forced to wind up its case against lone surviving accused, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, in January 2011. Before it, CBI had tried to get Quattrocchi extradited to India for years but always failed. Quattrocchi died in 2013.

The case that dragged on for 25 years and created storm in Indian politics, saw no convictions and it fact the judge, while deliberating on CBI’s closure report, commented that the agency had already spent Rs 250 crore on investigating a kickback of Rs 64 crore and the whole exercise was a sheer wastage of public money.

DENEL ARMS DEAL SCAM – 2003 TO 2013

India signed deal with South Africa’s state owned firm Denel in 2003 to get 1,200 bunker-buster anti-material rifles through a British agent. But the deal was mired in controversy with kickback allegations of Rs 20 crore paid to gain confidential documents from the Ministry of Defence. Denel was supposed to provide 1,200 rifles but it ended up providing only 300.

CBI started its probe in July 2005 but couldn’t make much headway apart from sending routine Letter Rogatories and was forced to file closure report in September 2013 where it accepted it could not find any evidence to prove allegations of corruption in the deal.

COFFIN SCAM – 2002 TO 2015

The scam came under scanner in 2002. A CAG report found the coffins bought for the Kargil War martyrs too expensive and indeed they were, at $2500, each coffin was 15 times more than the price of $172 paid earlier.

CBI was asked to probe the scam in June 2005 but could register a case only after a year, in June 2006, against George Fernandes, the Defence Minister in during the Kargil War in 1999, three army officers and the US supplier.

The agency filed its chargesheet in 2009 where it did not name George Fernandes giving him clean chit. The three army officers were also given clean chit by a Delhi court in December 2013 citing lack of evidence and in October 2015, the Supreme Court, too, gave the NDA government clean chit in the case under which the alleged scam had taken place.

BARAK MISSILE SCAM – 2001 TO 2013

The scam came to light in 2001 through Tehelka sting operation that alleged kickbacks in many defence deals signed by the government of India. The government had signed a deal worth Rs 1150 crore with Israel in 2000 for Barak missiles.

CBI took over the case and registered FIR in October 2006 accusing George Fernandes, former naval chief Sushil Kumar, Jaya Jaitley, Samata Party leader, RK Jain, Samata Party treasurer and businessman Suresh Nanda.

But while the case created political storm, CBI could not do much beyond sending letters of request to concerned countries from where it could not any worthy information. So the agency that had claimed huge bribes were paid and a conspiracy was hatched for the deal while registering the case, was forced to file closure report in December 2013.

©SantoshChaubey

THE MOST USED/ABUSED ‘TAGS’ FOR CBI

CBI or Central Bureau of Investigation is India’s ‘premier’ investigation agency – as is said/as it says – when we see it in the context of the reputation enjoyed by police and other crime investigation agencies. It is certainly better than them. In fact, all complicated case, which get hyped up or due public attention, are transferred to CBI sooner or later.

While writing this, the agency is handling over 10000 cases with many spread in many states and many cases have accused in thousands while the overall sanctioned strength of CBI is just around 4500.

But as CBI come under the jurisdiction of the ruling party, it has always been in use for its misuse or its use to settle political scores. Here are some of the most common tags used for the agency but the list is not the exhaustive one and suggestions are welcome.

‘Misuse of CBI!’ / ‘CBI misuse!’

‘CBI the caged parrot!’

‘CBI a political tool!’

‘CBI raids!’ / ‘CBI files case!’ / ‘Overworked CBI!’

‘CBI under political pressure!’

‘CBI under political pressure!’

‘Political misuse of CBI!’

‘Nation has lost faith in CBI’.

‘CBI misuse by Congress government!’

‘CBI misuse by BJP government!’

‘Congress Bureau of Investigation!’

‘BJP Bureau of Investigation!’

‘CBI Autonomy!’

‘CBI works independently!’

‘CBI is an independent investigation agency.!’

‘Liberate CBI from political interference!’

‘CBI integrity!’

‘CBI’s political masters!’

‘CBI serves political interests!’

‘The government’s puppet!’

‘The caged parrot sings.!’

‘The caged parrot gets wings.!’

‘Would the caged parrot get wings to fly?!’

‘CBI a caged parrot with many masters!’

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE QUESTIONS AFTER SUPREME COURT’S ORDER ON RANJIT SINHA REMOVING HIM FROM 2G PROBE

THE QUESTIONS

1. It is unprecedented. It is the first time that the Supreme Court has intervened to the extent in removing the director of a central investigating agency from a probe that is working on. Can we term it judicial activism or the Supreme Court was forced to do after the apex court’s patience was tested enough by the CBI director?

2. But, shouldn’t have this decision come much before given the fact that it has come almost three months after the visitor diary of CBI chief’s residence containing details of visits of people facing probe in 2G and coal-blocks allocation cases was put in public domain and the Supreme Court attention was drawn to it?

3. Shouldn’t have the CBI chief recused himself from the 2G probe when the allegations surfaced in the first place? Should he step down now?

4. Isn’t it too late given the fact that Ranjit Sinha is finishing his term as the CBI director on December 2, just after 12 days from now, and removing him from the 2G probe cannot alter the functional grounds of the investigation process now?

5. Should the government wait and let Ranjit Sinha finish his term or it should act after the Supreme Court’s order on Ranjit Sinha on moral grounds?

6. If the decision doesn’t hold for the technical elements of the investigation now given his term is ending, what is the symbolic message that it conveys?

7. ‘CBI is a caged parrot and set it free’ – Ranjit Sinha had famously demanded once. It opened a Pandora’s box of debates given the fact that CBI thoroughly enjoyed the reputation of being a central investigating agency controlled and manipulated by the parties in power. Will the Supreme Court’s decision to remove him from the 2G probe prove an effective reminder in that direction?

8. When Ranjit Sinha had demanded so, it sounded hollow as coming from a person who had faced allegations of being biased and favouring politicians and whose appointment had a streak of controversy behind it. Hasn’t the Supreme Court decision today proved the controversy justified?

9. Supreme Court went as far as in setting the seriousness of its observations while removing Ranjit Sinha by saying that it was not passing a detailed order as it would hurt CBI’s reputation. What does it tell to the government given the fact that Ranjit Sinha is finishing his term and a new CBI director is to be appointed?

10. Don’t we need to relook at the debate on CBI’s autonomy in the context of the Supreme Court decision today?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/