CBI chief Joginder Singh sacked
In a politically significant development, Central Bureau of Investigation Director Joginder Singh has been replaced. Singh has been moved to the home ministry as a special secretary. He retires from the Indian Police Service in October.
R C Sharma -- a special director in the Bureau -- succeeds the controversial CBI chief. Sharma was given a year's extension in service this January. He
had been in charge of the investigation in handling the Bofors, Chandra Swami, St Kitts, securities scam cases. He is an IPS officer of 1963 vintage, from the Punjab cadre.
Soon after Singh's removal, the government clarified that the change at the CBI's helm would in no way affect the on-going investigations into the fodder scam in Bihar.
An official spokesman said the agency's investigation into the case,
which involves Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, is being supervised by CBI Joint
Director (East) U N Biswas.
Singh assumed charge of the nation's principal
investigating agency on July 31 when investigation into the
hawala scandal was at its peak.
His 11-month tenure was tumultuous and he came
under constant attack from the politicians, the judiciary, the executive and
The 1961 batch IPS officer from the Karnataka cadre was hand-picked by then United Front prime minister H D Deve Gowda to head the CBI.
Within a fortnight of assuming charge as CBI director, Singh had to suffer the ignominy of being pulled up by the Supreme Court bench monitoring the hawala investigation.
The Supreme Court judges took strong exception to Singh's hobnobbing with politicians involved in various cases.
The high point of Singh's tenure came in Berne on January 21 when
he received secret Swiss bank documents relating to the Rs 650 million Bofors pay-offs.
In April, Singh promised that all major cases --
including the hawala and Bofors investigations --
would be wrapped up by October.
The agency's announcement about its decision to
file charges against Laloo Yadav in the fodder scam, much before the chargesheet was filed, kicked up a political storm. Demands were made that the CBI director should be taken to task.
The CBI's functioning also came in for severe criticism with
the courts holding that there was no evidence to support the
chargesheets in the hawala and St Kitts cases. Several politicians,
implicated by the CBI in the hawala case, have been discharged by
the courts which found no legal merit in the Jain diaries, on which the bureau had based its entire case.
In the St Kitts case -- in which P V Narasimha
Rao was chargesheeted by the CBI -- the court found the agency's case
against the former prime minister insufficient and discharged him along with
former Union minister of state for external affairs K K Tewari.
Among the other sensitive cases the CBI investigated
under Singh's direction were the JMM MPs pay-offs case, the Rs 1.33 billion urea scam, the various telecom deals by former Union minister Sukh Ram and the $ 100,000 Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India -- a member of the ruling United Front -- has endorsed Singh's removal as CBI director.
Party spokesman Shamim Faizee said Singh had not
satisfactorily handled several sensitive cases, thereby creating
doubts in the public mind about the government's intentions.
Faizee indicated that one reason for Singh's removal
was his habit of speaking to the media out of turn. ''He has been
shooting his mouth too much.''
Singh's removal, Faizee added, was also aimed
at dispelling widespread suspicions created by the inept handling of
the Jain hawala case.
The CPI spokesman denied that the decision had anything to do
with the investigation into the fodder scam.
The CPI statement is significant because Home Minister Indrajit
Gupta is a member of the party.
However, the Communist Party of India-Marxist -- another member of the Front -- described Singh's removal as unfortunate. Many people who are accused in ongoing cases may not be apprehended, CPI-M Politburo member Sitaram Yechuri said
Joginder Singh may get the axe
CBI's hawala fiasco bails out Gujral in Bofors case
'The CBI will not spare anybody if evidence is available. This is irrespective of the rank and status of a person'