CBI ex-director admits to govt pressure during probe

CBI ex-director admits to govt pressure during probe

In a bold claim, former CBI director Joginder Singh has said that the previous Central government needled him unnecessarily during the investigations into the fodder scam involving Lalu Prasad, as former prime  minister I K Gujral wanted to save his dispensation at any cost.

Singh, a 1963-cadre controversial officer who was rebuked by the Supreme Court for “hobnobbing” with politicians involved in hawala cases, was brought as the CBI head by Gujral’s predecessor H D Deve Gowda. The retired officer told Deccan Herald that Gujral tried to pressure him to go slow on Lalu as he needed the Bihar politician's support to remain in office. Gujral passed away in November last year.

However, Singh’s tenure was controversial as he was accused of being a publicity seeker. Even in the fodder scam, the Patna High Court had passed adverse comments against him on the way the probe was conducted.

“We had a heated argument. Gujral did not even want the charge sheet to be filed. He had a government to save,” Singh told Deccan Herald recalling his days as CBI director.

He said he was now happy to see two former chief ministers behind bars for indulging in corrupt practices. In January this year, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala was sentenced to ten years in jail for his involvement in teacher-recruitment scam while Lalu was convicted in fodder scam on Monday.

Singh recalled that there was “tremendous” pressure on him during the investigations in the fodder scam. “I faced verbal attacks every day from politicians but I am very thick-skinned. I went out with my job,” he said.

It appears that political compulsion prompted Gujral to support Lalu as the former prime minister badly needed numbers to sustain the United Front government.
A separate chapter is devoted to the fodder scam in his book “Inside CBI”. Singh recalls that there were “frantic calls” to him when he was on an official tour in Nepal whether the CBI was going to arrest Lalu or had conducted searches at the houses of senior officers belonging to Bihar. “As there was no such proposal at that time, I answered that we did not intend to so,'' Singh wrote.

On his removal, Singh had said that he was aware that he had annoyed Gujral and that his transfer orders would be soon on their way. He wrote that before taking over the CBI, I had met Deve Gowda only twice. “Not long enough to cultivate a person so as to influence him in his decision making,” he said in the book.

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