Misuse of probe agencies: Oppn parties’ plea in SC raises significant issues - The Tribune India

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Misuse of probe agencies

Oppn parties’ plea in SC raises significant issues

Misuse of probe agencies

A PLEA by 14 Opposition parties alleging arbitrary arrests and misuse of Central probe agencies against political opponents has been listed for hearing by the Supreme Court on April 5. - File photo



A PLEA by 14 Opposition parties alleging arbitrary arrests and misuse of Central probe agencies against political opponents has been listed for hearing by the Supreme Court on April 5. In asking for framing of pre-arrest and post-arrest bail guidelines, the petition claims that there is a clear pattern of investigative agencies being used to target political rivals and dissenting citizens. It is alleged that cases are registered in quick succession to ensure that the accused stays in custody for a prolonged period. Instances have also been cited of slowing down of probe proceedings or a clean chit being given to politicians who have crossed over to the ruling party at the Centre.

The plea contends that 95 per cent of the cases filed by probe agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in the recent past were against leaders of Opposition parties. This cannot be a coincidence. It amplifies the allegation that the fight against corruption is increasingly being used as an instrument of vendetta politics. The BJP’s counter of zero tolerance for graft is well taken, but the party does not emerge as too different from those it had lambasted when it was in the Opposition for eroding the autonomy of investigative agencies.

The rare convergence of non-BJP parties has some similarity to their coming together in 2019 to demand the random verification of at least 50 per cent electronic voting machines (EVMs) using the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in every Assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency. The Supreme Court had then directed the Election Commission to raise the VVPAT-EVM verification from one EVM to five in each Assembly segment. With several states going to the polls later this year, followed by the 2024 General Election, the outcome of the current case can have a bearing on the Opposition’s fortunes.


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