Shame CBI, you are on a new low

The dismissal of a charge sheet against former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms in a 2002 case and the strong words used by a Delhi court against the CBI in its order are yet another serious indictment of the investigating agency. The courts, including the Supreme Court, have severely criticised the CBI in the past for its acts of omission and commission, failures, incompetence and ways and methods and attitudes. The colourful image of a ‘caged parrot’ used by the apex court to describe it has not faded a bit. The latest judicial censure makes the image starker and shows how true the description is. There have been few other indictments by courts which are more damaging to the reputation of the national police agency. It also shows how naïve it was to imagine that all the public criticism of the CBI and the steps claimed to have been taken to make it independent would have any effect on its functioning.

The court found that the CBI had manufactured and foisted a case against the telecom companies and the senior official in 2012. The charge sheet was filed when the UPA government was reeling under the A Raja scandal. It perhaps wanted to make a point
that irregular spectrum allotment was made during the time of the NDA government too which was in power in 2002. This could only be under political orders. But it is shameful that a national agency resorted to such frame-up and criminal conduct. The court said that the charge sheet was based on ‘deliberately redacted and garbled facts’. It also noted that the charge sheet was filed for ‘extraneous reasons’, that there was no evidence and that incriminating material against the accused was created and that an attempt was made to mislead the court.

The police sometimes fail to find the truth and to successfully prosecute cases. This is understandable. But it is criminal for an investigative agency to slap false charges against individuals or companies, to damage their reputation and to try to get them punished. The most important dictum of justice is that an innocent person should not be punished
even if many guilty people go scot free. The CBI officials who cooked up the cases should be punished for the offence they committed. The court should ensure that this is done so that the message goes out that doing the political bidding of the government of the day is not good for officials in the long term. Those who pressured them to act wrongly should also not be spared. The bigger issue of reforming the CBI would still remain.

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