CBI's overreach : The Tribune India

CBI's overreach

Top probe agency’s credibility is under a cloud

CBI's overreach

Nine years after the Supreme Court infamously described the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as ‘a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice’, the credibility of the country’s premier probe agency remains under a cloud. An investigation carried out by a leading English daily has found that the proportion of Opposition leaders under the CBI’s scanner has gone up considerably during the eight years of the NDA’s rule till now compared to the decade-long tenure of the Congress-led UPA. When the latter was in power, at least 72 political leaders faced CBI probes, of which 43 (60 per cent) were from the Opposition. After the BJP-led NDA took charge in 2014, at least 124 prominent politicians have been on the CBI’s radar so far, including 118 (95 per cent) from Opposition parties.

This trend is so stark and unmistakable that it can’t be dismissed as mere coincidence. An agency official’s claim that Opposition leaders are not being targeted sounds unconvincing. The CBI has found itself under intense public scrutiny, particularly in West Bengal where a motion was passed in the Assembly by the ruling Trinamool Congress on Monday against the ‘hyperactive conduct’ of Central probe agencies. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused state BJP leaders of devising and executing a game plan in league with the CBI and the ED, even as she remarked cryptically that PM Narendra Modi might not be aware of the ‘excesses’ committed by these agencies in the state.

No matter who is pulling the strings, misuse of the CBI is unacceptable as it weakens the foundations of this national institution and, in turn, undermines the country’s constitutional and democratic framework. The fact that several Opposition leaders have switched over to the BJP in recent months, especially in Punjab and Goa, is worrisome as it is attributed to the prospect of ‘immunity from prosecution’ by the Opposition. The judiciary has an important role to play here to rein in the Central agencies whenever they show overzealousness or high-handedness. The nationwide crackdown on corruption is welcome, but it should not be dictated by a politically-motivated pick-and-choose approach.

Tribune Shorts


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