CBI washes hands of counsel change in graft case

Trying to wriggle out of a potential controversy, CBI Thursday claimed that dropping former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam as its counsel in an anti-corruption case involving an IRS officer was not its decision but the government’s.

Subramaniam was to appear in Supreme Court on Thursday in the decade-old case involving IRS officer Ashok Kumar Aggarwal. However, Subramaniam was replaced by Attorney General G E Vahanvati.

CBI sources claimed it was Law Ministry’s decision to change the counsel. They said they wanted to retain Subramaniam as he had been appearing in the case for nearly a decade.

Aggarwal was booked in two cases in 2002 by CBI after it got sanction from Finance Ministry. He was accused of criminal conspiracy to extort money from a trader by threatening to book him in a false case of violation of foreign exchange regulations.
In another case, he was accused of amassing assets worth over Rs 12 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income.

CBI sources said the request for retaining Subramaniam was not accepted.
The matter, which came up before Supreme Court on Thursday, was adjourned and next hearing will take place on August one.

Subramaniam was appointed Solicitor General on June 15, 2009 for a three-year term but resigned in July 2011 after a private lawyer was engaged by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to argue his case in a PIL filed against him.

The CBI has been in the news for wrong reasons in the past few months with Supreme Court calling it a “caged parrot” after then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar allegedly made corrections in its report to be filed in the apex court on coal scam.

The agency suffered another blow when a Delhi court last week rejected its closure report in a disproportionate assets case against Vincent George, a close aide of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, saying there is enough material to proceed against him.
In the cash-for-post case in which Pawan Bansal’s nephew was arrested, the CBI faced flak for making the former Railway Minister a prosecution witness. A Delhi court even castigated the agency for adopting double standards in the case, saying it is expected to be fair to all accused and conspirators.

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