Nobody seems to be perturbed at the Supreme Court sitting over an appeal preferred by the Central Bureau of Investigation for the past six years. The investigating agency had rushed to the apex court in 2013, following an unexpected judgment by the Gauhati High Court, which ruled that the CBI was actually unconstitutional and had no legal validity to usurp police powers. While the Supreme Court immediately granted a stay, thus allowing the agency to continue functioning, it clearly has shown no urgency to deliver a speaking order, either quashing the High Court’s ruling or upholding it. The legitimacy of CBI has again come into question, following its hysterical conduct in Kolkata.
The agency first planted a report in the media suggesting that the Kolkata police commissioner was absconding and that his arrest was imminent. The very next day, a contingent of 40 CBI officials arrived at the police commissioner’s residence on a Sunday evening to question him. It led to an ugly scuffle between the policemen and CBI officials, and a political standoff with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who accused the union government of a political witch-hunt. The next day, the interim director of the CBI, on his last day in office, told the media that there was enough evidence against the police commissioner, that he had destroyed evidence and colluded with the main accused in the Saradha Chit Fund scam. Twenty four hours later, the Government argued before the Supreme Court that evidence could be destroyed by the police commissioner and hence there was urgency for his custodial interrogation. However, by not allowing the prayer, the court indicated that it was not quite impressed with the evidence on offer.
The only explanation for such bizarre behaviour by the CBI is that it was prodded into action by political masters, who wanted to score a political point. The Saradha scam, after all, was handed over to the CBI in 2014, and only because its tentacles extended to several states, including Odisha, Assam and Jharkhand. Since then, the agency has submitted as many as 80 chargesheets in the case. The main accused Sudipta Sen, who was arrested incidentally by the SIT headed by the present Kolkata police commissioner, and his close aides, has been in custody for the past five years. For the CBI to claim now that the SIT did not hand over a laptop, a red diary and five mobile phones is clearly suspicious.
It could have dealt with it differently and approached the court. The indiscreet public comments by the interim director, maligning a senior police officer without an FIR, investigation or a chargesheet were unwarranted. All said and done, the agency’s unprofessional conduct served to cement the impression that it’s a lapdog.