Thursday, May 09, 2013

CBI : From Jain Hawala Scandal to CoalGate

"Parliament (is now) adjourned sine die, without conducting any significant business, as if we elect representatives simply to leave everything in abeyance...The government has no sense of propriety, shame, ethics or common prudence...The responsibility for a culture of corruption, evasion, lying and sheer contempt for institutions lies directly at the door of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Their air of injured innocence has become nauseating..."
The gloves are now off: In his latest op-ed published by the Indian Express yesterday. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of CPR has been particularly scathing about the conduct of the present government.

When he writes about "lying and sheer contempt for institutions", he is, of course, referring to CBIs handling of the Coal Report. One thing that keeps coming up in most reports on CBI is the Vineet Narain Judgement.

What is the Vineet Narain Judgement?

This story begins in 1991 when a militant from our friendly neighborhood named Ashfak Lone was arrested by Delhi Police. His interrogation led the CBI to a businessman named Surinder Jain and to his notebooks & dairies containing details of payoffs in meticulous detail. According to the CBI report, "The initials (in the dairies) corresponded to the initials of various high-ranking politicians, in power and out of power, and of high-ranking bureaucrats". When no follow-up action was taken by CBI for nearly three years, a journalist named Vineet Narain filed a public interest litigation (PIL) under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.

As luck would have it, this PIL case - by now famous as the "Jain Hawala Scandal" - landed at the table of J.S. Verma, one of the most respected judges of in India (now, alas, no more). In his judgment (1997), it was ruled that "superintendence over CBI's functioning" would be shifted from the line ministry to an independent statutory body, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

CVC was now directed to "review the progress of all cases moved by the CBI for sanction of prosecution of public servants which are pending with the competent authorities, specially those in which sanction has been delayed or refused".

Seen in this context, its hardly surprising that the Supreme Court is doubly upset with CBIs and the government's handling of the Coal Scam investigations.


* Mehta, Pratap Bhanu (2013): PHANTOM DEMOCRACY, Indian Express, 9May13 --

* Supreme Court Judgement - Vineet Narain Case -

* PTI (9May) - Coalgate: CVC seeks report from CBI on Centre's interference in probe ---

* Reuters (9May) - Government meddled in CBI probe, says Supreme Court --


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