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Why I am disappointed with CBI's interim boss

November 05, 2018 17:16 IST

'I would have expected that, once firmly ensconced in the director's chair by 2:15 am, the not-director of the CBI would have called for pen and paper and hand-written a few clean chits.'
'Clean chits over Rafale; clean chits to the PM's secretary in the coal bribery case; a clean chit to Hasmukh Adhia on whatever claim Subramanian Swamy has cooked up about him...' says Mihir Sharma.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

India is, of course, not a banana republic. We are a proud nation with a 5,000 year history etc, etc, and a superb Constitution on very nice paper with wonderful illustrations by Nandalal Bose and others.

We have many institutions also. They are known for their independence, by which we mean that their decisions often seem to not be dependent on the facts of the case.

Of course, although we have had strong and independent institutions since independence in 1947, there was a brief interregnum in which these institutions were not independent, to be precise between 1950 and 2014, because of the absence in Delhi of either Sardar Patel or Narendra Modi.

Since 2014, however, we have had ever stronger institutions. They are also decisive, and all sorts of other nice things.

They are certainly not laughing stocks. The sight, true, of the Central Bureau of Investigation descending in awesome force to raid the den of iniquity that is the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation might have caused one or two eyebrows to rise, but if so, the eyebrows in question were certainly anti-national and the eyes below them jaundiced.

The information that swiftly followed, that the director of the CBI and his deputy would be suspended, should surely be greeted with relief.

 

It is a sign, no doubt, of the strength and independence of our institutions and also the strength and decisiveness of the first patriotic government that we have had in 1,200 years that this decision was taken at 2 am.

It is also very reassuring that, in a further sign of independence, practically the entire CBI anti-corruption bureau in Delhi was also transferred -- some to that hotbed of nationally-relevant corruption, Port Blair.

It is true that the director of the CBI has a two-year term, but it is obvious that such minor issues, which might at first seem to be essential for institutional independence, cannot be allowed to interfere with strength and decisiveness at 2 am.

The government has now made it amply clear that the CBI head is not sacked, merely that somebody else is doing his job.

I commend this institutional innovation and reform and suggest it be applied to other posts. Perhaps, for example, our prime minister can stay prime minister if he is voted out in 2019, and merely let someone else do his job (except for the foreign travel bits).

Indeed, maybe Ajit Doval can continue to do the prime minister's job after the elections, he seems to be doing well in the position currently.

There is yet more evidence to present that this great country and its strong and independent institutions are not in fact laughing stocks.

For example, the presence of Intelligence Bureau officers snooping on the -- Outgoing? Sacked? No, suspended -- suspended head of the CBI. It should be amply clear that if the CBI raids the CBI, the next step is obviously the IB snooping on the CBI.

Surely, no doubt, the IB will be spying on the IB and then perhaps the army can invade navy headquarters.

After all, the Delhi police has already invaded the Delhi government. All this is not, as some anti-nationals might argue, a sign of creeping authoritarianism, but is in fact another indication of institutional strength.

We are introducing ever new checks and balances to the system: Anyone investigating bank balances will swiftly find themselves checked.

Ah, if only such dedication to institutional strength had marked the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance, universally acknowledged as the government most destructive of institutional independence!

What a pity that in 2012 the CBI did not raid the CVC, the CVC did not suspend the CAG, and the CAG did not declare that the Supreme Court had caused a presumptive loss to the exchequer of 3.7 trillion trillion rupees!

That would have been the sign of a truly strong and decisive government. Certainly Times Now would have welcomed it as a 'clean-up', as they did the removal of the current CBI head.

Patriotic Indians feel only one small disappointment: The new leadership of the CBI has so far failed to issue any clean chits. Does this not show a lack of sufficient decisiveness?

I would have expected that, once firmly ensconced in the director's chair by 2:15 am, the not-director of the CBI would have called for pen and paper and hand-written a few clean chits.

For example, clean chits over Rafale, ignoring the request for investigation by Yashwant Sinha and others; clean chits to the prime minister's secretary in the coal bribery case; a clean chit to Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on whatever claim Subramanian Swamy has cooked up about him this week; and a clean chit to whoever was then chief minister of Gujarat in any and all issues involving alleged riots in 2002, just in case.

I mean, how long do these take to write? They could have been done by 2:30 am.

Mihir S Sharma
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