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The major corruption cases and the investigating agencies

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Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy blamed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India, for the delay in action in some major cases of corruption by the agency including the Aircel-Maxis, National Herald, and Robert Vadra cases. In a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Swamy listed these cases and referred to inaction by the CBI for the past several months. The list includes also Nalini Chidambaram and Sarada scam and Chopper scam. Mention may be made of the following four cases where also no adequate progress has been made: Coalgate scam, Railwaygate scam, Tatra truck scam, 2G spectrum:

The BJP leader was for many months also unhappy with a senior Finance Ministry official for slowing down or diluting the cases against P Chidambaram and his family under Black Money Act and Benami Act. As per PGURUS (27/09), Swamy has now written to the Finance Minister, seeking sanction for Prosecution of Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary under Cr PC Section 197 and Section 19 Prevention of Corruption Act. He has been accused of having a nexus with Nirav Modi.

Govt has not been acting into these allegations. This is very surprising indeed. In the meantime, the rift at the top in India’s leading investigative agency is out in the open with reports of a fallout between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana. The latter had approached the government with a note saying the agency’s director Alok Verma was interfering in probes undertaken by him.

As special director, second in command at the CBI, Asthana oversees several high-profile investigations, including those into fugitive billionaire Vijay Mallya, the Agusta Westland corruption scandal, former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti in the INX Media case, and the land dealings in Rajasthan of a company belonging to Robert Vadra.

The rivalry between the two factions, each with its own well-wishers in other investigating and intelligence agencies, government departments and political circles, has intensified to such an extent that it is casting a shadow on investigations and the image of the CBI.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials say that Asthana’s role needs to be probed on account of his name figuring in a diary recovered during an income tax search on the premises of the Gujarat-based Sandesara Group. The matter is currently being probed by the ED, CBI and Income Tax Department. But, ED is also reportedly afflicted by similar infighting

However, bureaucratic circles are abuzz with news of the ED widening the scope of the ongoing probe against journalist Upendra Rai. The cold war wind within the bureaucracy is likely to return soon as inquiries revealed that the ED’s investigation has reportedly established Rai’s linkages with over 200 IAS officers, 150 IPS officers and 115 IRS officers. As mentioned, there are already allegations against some bureaucrats for hindering CBI investigations. So, there may be some relevance in these enquiries.

The matter has been brewing since July when the government said it would not interfere in ongoing tussle, in view of the autonomy of the premier investigating agency. But such a state of affairs can’t be allowed to continue in bureaucracy ED and CBI, as this is probably affecting their functioning particularly in pursuing properly the aforesaid important criminal cases. Manning the organization with suitable. personnel or transferring/removing of officials remains the responsibility of the parent ministry and this does not in any way impair CBI’s autonomy. Therefore, it is high time govt. intervene and take appropriate measures.

Finally, there has already been considerable delay in proceedings of the above cases. Supreme Court (SC) should bring these cases under fast track courts for early resolution. Alternatively, SC monitoring of trial could be a solution.

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