Misusing Laws to Target Opposition

The opposition parties have long been alleging that the party in power often misuses anti-corruption laws to target and harass them. In the legal armoury of the Centre there are any number of agencies against corruption – the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Income Tax Department. As opposition leaders have been pointing out from time to time, these agencies are selectively used to target the opposition. The same person may be booked by each of these agencies and cases started against him for the same offence, making him run from one court to another, filing bail petitions and going to judicial custody if bail is not granted. It is also alleged that the concerned agencies speed up or go slow on the investigations according to the political exigencies of the party in power.
The Saradha Chit Fund Case is an instance. For the last four to five years, the CBI has been investigating the case and filing one charge sheet after another against the accused. But the trial has not begun. The Supreme Court recently pulled up the CBI and demanded to know why the trial in the Saradha case could not be started. It has been noticed that there is a periodic ebb-and-flow in the pace of the CBI investigation. Recently a senior CBI officer visited the State to speed up the Saradha case. But then, after he went back to Delhi, he himself was embroiled in a controversy and his authority to appoint investigating officers was challenged.
If, after a long trial and spending years in judicial custody, no guilt can be fixed on the accused and they are eventually acquitted, the humiliation they were subjected to and the loss of social status that they suffered cannot be compensated by the government or any of its agencies. If the original intention was to harass the accused by implicating them in false or legally untenable cases then the government’s purpose would have been served. But what about the hapless family? There should be legal provisions to ensure that a person or persons arrested for corruption are investigated by one specific agency, working in cooperation with the other agencies, the trial is speedily completed and the accused is either convicted or acquitted. No ruling party can be allowed to misuse State agencies to target political opponents.

Friday, 20 July, 2018