Corruption felled dignity

Category ncghvaoe

first_imgA four-time former finance minister of India is now in police (CBI) remand. CBI had marked him as an accomplice of Karti Chidambaram a little more than a year ago while the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought him out on charges of money laundering too. All courts believed he did no wrong and lent him, from time to time, protection from arrest. Emboldened, he sought anticipatory bail from Delhi High Court. He was heard and so was CBI, which presented its case in full-throttle. This was earlier in 2019. A few days ago, the High Court in denying him bail also observed: first, that the case is a classic case of money laundering; second, that Chidambaram is the kingpin in the case and third, it is not a case of political vendetta. And, to cut the long story short, he was arrested and has been remanded in CBI custody for custodial interrogation. Also Read – A special kind of bondThis custody has, among some cognizant, raised a hornet’s nest. The country’s TV channels have gone to town and on Thursday, August 23, several of them debated, right through the day, about the arrest and consequent remand. Since I participated in several channels, let me attempt to state what transpired. The debaters vocally put forth several arguments against the arrest, which broadly echoed the following. When the judge was to retire in 48 hours, his order denying bail and a 24-page virtual judgement, as if it were after trial, was improper. CBI had overacted by dramatically scaling the walls to arrest Chidambaram, incorrectly presuming that he was evading them; they could have waited for the orders of the Supreme Court since his appeal was already pending with it. Moreover, when Karti has all the properties and 22 bank accounts, arrest of Chidambaram was unwarranted and unconstitutional. Further, not arresting five other members of FIPB and going for the throat of Chidambaram highlights the bias of CBI. It was even argued that there was no tenable legal or investigating ground to arrest him when he had been appearing before the agency whenever called, and that he was not a fugitive like Vijaya Mallya, Nirav Modi, etc. Through the brash action, CBI has only spoiled its image – it was indeed a defamatory action, one of the debaters averred. Also Read – Insider threat managementAs the only former CBI officer on various panels, I was well prepared with my response. The 24-page High Court order can be the only basis for CBI action. It called him (Chidambaram) kingpin and the material evidence against him as representing a classic case of money laundering. In all his appearances before CBI, he has been evasive and uncooperative. The CrPC and Indian Evidence Act is there for arrest and custodial investigation; subsequently, collecting evidence from accused is legal and not unconstitutional. By dismissing his security and driver while also switching off and getting rid of his mobile soon after the High Court order, Chidambaram hoodwinked the CBI into thinking that he was slipping into hiding. CBI measures then countered that possibility effectively. Further, it must be remembered that investigation of crime also ensnares those (Chidambaram) who make it profitable to others (Karti & Co) who have done nothing to make a living except indulging in crime. The value of custodial interrogation and evidence collected through that area is beyond members of the panel and when they find fault with it they are out of their ken. On allegations of vendetta by the ruling party and misuse of CBI, I readily conceded. Nevertheless, Chidambaram has been arrested as High Court calls him kingpin of this crime. I also conceded that CBI’s record in political cases is questionable and the present CJI on CBI Founders Memorial said so in as many words. The Centre misuses CBI, and as CJI said, “political oversight” is wrong. One must remember that during NDA’s rule under PM Vajpayee the Justice Malimuth Committee had proposed changes in our codes to eliminate or reduce political oversight. Despite the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) 2005 having received the President’s assent after incorporating some changes that would reduce/eliminate political oversight over criminal investigations, it is not being implemented as a law yet. Why – because both Centre and states want to latch on to the advantage of gaining from political oversight in criminal investigation. Further, the FIPB members were not taking bribes. The conspiracy by Chidambaram and Karti is clear and confirmed. Therefore, the fact that those members are not accused is not relevant to the defence of the former finance minister. The scaling wall pictures did undeniably spoil CBI’s image. CBI could have avoided that scenario. Blocking exit points inconspicuously and using a loudspeaker to summon the former finance minister would have been more acceptable. The former home and four-time finance minister, along with his only progeny Karti, is facing serious corruption charges. However, the effort of the opposition to make it a political issue is failing. Courts may deny further remand but then there is the Enforcement Directorate also left to face. Personal integrity in political circles is a quality deeply desired that does the country proud while honouring the person himself – like Lal Bhadur Shastri in the 60s, Rajesh Pilot in the recent past and nobody now. (The author is a former Joint Director of CBI. The views are strictly personal)last_img

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