Sudhi Ranjan Sen, May 24, 2006 (New Delhi):
Even as the CBI investigates the biggest scandals and corruption cases in the country, there is upheaval within the organisation.
Sources have told NDTV that CBI Director Vijay Shankar is determined to set his house in order.
Talking tough to CBI officials in an internal circular, the CBI chief said he was worried about the increasing number of acquittals in high-profile cases.
Although the circular is more like a list of basic dos and don'ts, Shankar's language is tough.
He begins by writing that:
* "Officers have deviated from our motto of integrity".
* Without mentioning the embarrassing acquittal of the accused in the Priyadarshini rape and murder case, Shankar says "increasing acquittals need urgent action" and legal advice is "mediocre".
* Legal and investigation officers must cooperate to prevent mischief on the part of prosecutors like taking bribes from the accused.
* Even for ordinary citizens, the CBI should avoid high-handedness and misbehaviour.
* The circular ends with a threat. If an officer or his supervisor is found wanting, then it will be mentioned in their annual report – something that can either stop promotions or shift the officer out of the CBI.
Besides this stern confidential circular, the CBI director has authorised vigilance cases against at least three very senior IPS officers in the agency. Orders have also been issued to speed up departmental inquiries against seven other officers.
In addition, two senior deputy legal officers of the agency were arrested recently, accepting bribe from an accused. Similarly two inspectors investigating the group housing society scam in Delhi were also arrested for accepting bribes.
In the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case, both an internal inquiry and the trial court said that the CBI had favoured the accused.
That no one of consequence in the politically sensitive cases, be it the Jain Hawala case or the JMM case, was ever prosecuted and its ever changing stand in the Babri Masjid demolition case clearly shows that the CBI makes laws according to the accused.
Sources tell NDTV that the director has told the government that he is a worried man. While this confirms a long-standing suspicion of lack of integrity within the agency, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
However, the drive to clean the agency needs to be carried out with vigour.