CBI: Supreme Court steps in

The civil war in the CBI and the Modi Government’s ham-handed handling of it has tarnished the image of both. Both the Director and the Special Director approached the Supreme Court. The decisions announced by the apex court on Friday will prevent the Centre from managing the CBI in the way it likes – rather liked to do. While not holding the transfer of the Director and the Special Director as illegal or unconstitutional, it had ordered that the ‘interim’ Director Nageswara Rao, who himself faces corruption charges, will only do day-to-day routine administrative work. He cannot take policy decision. It is unclear at the moment whether the transfer order of Director and the Special Director and the dismantling of the CBI teams that were inquiring into various cases by Rao is valid or not.
The inquiry that the Central Vigilance Commission was conducting into the charges brought against CBI Director Alok Verma will continue but it will be supervised by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice A. K. Patnaik. The implication is clear: the apex court is not giving a free hand to the CVC to conduct the inquiry in the way it likes but ensures that it is held under the Court’s oversight. The CVC has been given a time limit of two weeks to complete the inquiry against Verma and subtmit its report within two weeks. This is undoubtedly a setback for the Prime Minister and his Government. Things have not gone the way the Government hoped they would.
There has been a setback for the Government on another front too – the political front. The CBI imbroglio has galvanized the moribund Congress party into action all over the country. The courting of mass arrest of Congress workers led by party president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Friday underlines that fact. Rahul Gandhi’s charge that Verma was removed because he was about to start an inquiry into the Rafale deal may nor may not be eventually substantiated,  but as far as public perception goes there is no doubt that it has dented the party’s image. In politics public perception is an important factor that those in power have to contend with. The presence of several opposition party leaders like those of the TMC, CPI, etc., in the Congress rally before the CBI office in the capital has also sent a message. On the CBI affair, the Centre is obviously on the back foot. The initiative has been snatched by the Congress in the run up to the coming general elections.

Saturday, 27 October, 2018