CBI Director Caught On The Wrong Foot

Much though a section of our society may be heaping on praise on CBI Director, Mr Ranjit Sinha for his ‘bold’ affidavit filed on Friday, 26th April’13 before the Hon’ble Supreme Court (SC) in a matter concerning coal scam, I have, however, a different take on this.

The CBI Director, Mr Sinha notwithstanding his bold praiseworthy affidavit before the SC, seems to have faltered, in the process, on a few counts, like:

(a)    This being basically a SC-monitored case, he was not really needed to share his earlier affidavit of 8th March’13 – coal scam probe status report – with the political and bureaucratic executives, namely, the Union Law Minister, Joint Secretary (JS) in PMO and JS in Ministry of Coal, for the simple reason that they are the necessary opposite parties in this case;

(b)   Responding, however,  to the Law Minister summoning to his office, the option available to him was : (i) following the official protocol he needed to go  to visit the Minister  anyway but care should have been taken to go without any related text of the affidavit in his hand and should have attempted to explain his inability, under the circumstance, to oblige the Minister ; likewise, the requests of the PMO and the Ministry of Coal should have been handled adroitly ;  and  (ii) ideally , it would have been more prudent on his part to avoid  visiting the Minister and the JSs on the pretext of the case being a SC-monitored one. Thinking and suggesting the way, in the hindsight as it is, may seem somewhat un-practical and difficult proposition, but then, that’s what separates a bureaucrat who refuses to take a bad command from the one who willy nilly takes every command – good or bad – to appease his political master/s.

RANJIT_SINHA-CBI_Director
Mr. Ranjit Sinha, CBI Director

 

(c)    His belated disclosure (as he seems to be saying now after being caught) in his latest affidavit before the SC, has, paradoxically, served to place the Additional Solicitor General (Mr Harin Rawal) in an embarrassingly hopeless situation for he had emphatically assured the SC earlier on 12th March’13 that the probe status report was not shared with the political executive; and

(d)   The very acknowledgement on the part of Mr Sinha  now, that henceforth in this case he is unlikely to commit any similar error, may only serve to substantiate that his earlier act was a huge mistake.

The Apex Court is scheduled to hear the case on 30th April’13. It’s likely to be a real tough time then for both the CBI Director and the Additional Solicitor General for the way the two have submitted / conducted themselves earlier before this court. In a given situation, among other things, if the two are held guilty of the contempt of court, one shouldn’t get surprised at all.

Keeping oneself now in Mr Ranjit Sinha’s shoes, however, it may be visualised that his latest affidavit filed in compliance of SC’s specific order, seems to be more of a ploy to save his own skin in the first place. In regard to a relevant specific  point, whether or not on earlier occasion – on meeting the political and bureaucratic executives –  any amendment in the text of the probe status report was affected, he has preferred to remain silent  and thereby he seems to have attempted to shield them.

One thing, in the midst of all this development, stands out exposed with sheer brazenness– that government of the day despite vehemently refuting the allegations of interfering with the functioning of the CBI has been caught for the wrongdoing alongside the Director of this investigating agency.

All said and done, this case is quite interestingly poised at this stage in the aftermath of the CBI Director’s latest affidavit and is likely to generate lots of dust and heat, in the socio- political and bureaucratic arenas, in the days to come till the Apex Court takes it up on 30th April’13. And who knows, its fallout may be even much more vigorous and widespread after that.

I am keeping my fingers crossed till then.

Narendra Bhagat

Written by

A retired I.A.S. officer, Mr. Narendra Bhagat spends part of his time to blog and write for our magazine. He has authored two books.

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