Probe against Sinha will bolster CBI

The investigation ordered by the Supreme Court against former CBI director Ranjit Sinha is unprecedented but it may offer an opportunity for the nation to get to the truth of some most egregious charges against him, and by extension, the agency. The charges are not personal but relate to his conduct as the chief of the country’s premier investigative agency. CBI directors have, in the past, also been accused of unprofessional conduct and subordination to political direction, but none of them has been held to account for their actions. The charges against Sinha are serious and have sounded convincing and credible. He had multiple meetings at his residence with people accused in the coal scam and with a person suspected of having hawala links when cases against them were being investigated by the agency. He met top officials of the Reliance group many times when Reliance Telecom was facing investigation in the 2G case. He also had a controversial record before he became the head of the CBI.

It was, ironically, when the Supreme Court was dealing with the coal scam that it famously called the CBI a “caged parrot.” It had, in fact, termed Sinha’s meetings inappropriate as back as May 2015. Later, a senior CBI official, appointed by the court, found the visitors’ diary at Sinha’s residence — which contained details of his impugned meetings — genuine and reported that the director had tried to influence the investigations. The  court removed Sinha from supervising the 2G scam investigation just a few days before his retirement. It passes understanding why a case was not registered against him and why he was not investigated all these months. The court has said that it is ‘prima facie satisfied and convinced’ that there is a case against him. Since all the material, on the basis of which this inference was made, was available for the court and in the public realm when Sinha was in office, the present investigation could have been conducted even then.

The court has assigned the investigation to the CBI itself. The recently appointed CBI director, Alok Verma, will conduct the probe with the help of two officers, and he has been told to take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence with respect to it. It said that the court did not want an outside agency to conduct or monitor the probe and that it has enough faith in the impartiality of the CBI after the recent change of guard. It is for Alok Verma and his team to live up to that faith. There is a chance for it to prove that the law is above everyone, however high they maybe.

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