April 09, 2020
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'I Don't Take Instructions From Anyone"

For a man who is facing a privilege motion, CBI director Joginder Singh is unfazed. Oozing aggression, the tough-talking CBI director spoke to Charu Lata Joshi. Excerpts:

'I Don't Take Instructions From Anyone"
You have been in the firing line for talking to the press on two occasions.

I have not exceeded my authority at all. I have not violated any courts, any rules, any instructions. I don't go to the press at all. My tragedy is that wherever I go, you people harass me. Rarely, ever do I meet people. You are one of the few exceptions.

You have been accused of taking politically-motivated decisions and publicising them to save yourself.

As far as taking decisions is concerned, I have acted within the four corners of law. One thing I have learnt is never to tell lies. So, I won't tell you one thing and tell someone else something else. I may tell you that I know something but would not like to talk about it. We have no intention of going public but you people are inquisitive.

In the Laloo case, why did you make an Internal matter of the CBI public, that too on a Sunday, even before you moved the file for official sanction?

The Patna High Court had given us time till April 28 on the fodder seam. I took a decision a day earlier, on Sunday, April 27. I hardly take a holiday. In fact, I was in office the previous Sunday as well. But you people are so smart that you track me down and then snoop around for news. If somebody confronts me and asks me if the information is correct or not, what can I say? I can't refuse. Somebody thrusts a mike in front of me. What can I do?

But don't you court the media?

It is normal courtesy. At my level--I draw the salary of a secretary to the government of India--meeting the press is not banned. The Services Manual and Conduct Rules specifically gives any officer of and above the level of a joint secretary the authority to brief the press as long as it does not jeopardise the country. What wrong have I done?

But conventionally, internal car decisions are not made pubic.

I will not comment on that. As I said, I have acted within the powers delegated to me. If the investigation is completed and then something comes out, it is not going to hamper the case. In any case, there is an official spokesman in the eel. If he can speak to the press on behalf of the eer, I suppose even the director has the authority.

But you did breach parliamentary privilege by disclosing classified Information on Bofors. I won't comment on this.

Do you think the furore against you is politically motivated?

I will not comment on this. I should do my job well and that is the end of the matter. You attend to one controversy and somebody says something else. I do my job well and it is up to anybody to say anything.

In the Bofors case, isn't it true that the legal advisors to the CBI had opposed the filing of the chargesheet? Why did you override them?

In the fodder scam, the Supreme Court laid down that the CBI director can take a decision overriding everyone, if he feels that a case is made out. It said the final authority is vested in the director. Only if there is a difference of opinion--in case a junior officer feels that there is a case and the director disagrees--then the matter has to be referred to the attorney general. The CBI director is a decision-maker. He has to take a decision after taking all factors into consideration.

Political factors?

I take my decisions alone. I do not take instructions from anybody, no politician, no minister. It is very lonely at the top. But then I have to take the hard decisions. People can say what they want, all that doesn't affect me.

But if there is nothing in your investigation to show that Rajiv took money, why name him?

I don't want to comment on this. But you must realise that things are not as simple as that. There are so many issues. There may be a cover-up conspiracy. I don't want to talk about it. My case is based on concrete evidence and we have gone purely by law.

But politicians are baying for your blood. and you really don't have any political party backing you.

I don't need anybody's backing. I need the backing of the law, the courts, God and my conscience. Let them remove me. I'll move on to my next job and do it equally honestly. This is one thing I learnt early in my service: to sit lightly on any chair I occupy.

These controversies apart, the performance of the CBI has been quite dismal since you took over. The hawala case is just one instance.I will not really be able to comment on that. The case was dealt with by my predecessor. But we don't fabricate evidence. We bring out the truth. As for the hawala case, we will go in appeal.

The SIT probing Rajiv's assassination faces allegations of deleting and tampering with evidence.

We have not looked into that as yet. But if that is true, I can assure you that we will conduct a thorough investigation and the guilty will be punished. Nobody will be spared. I must tell you that there are certain black sheep even in the CBI. I have already started looking into this matter. Just last month, an inspector was caught in Mumbai for taking a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh. I realise I have to tighten the system and weed out the corrupt and inefficient forces at work.

There has been a lot of resentment in the CBI since you took over. You are accused of being high-handed, not reading files, introducing an arbitrary transfer policy.

In my job, I take hard decisions. Because I get all the brickbats. I face the music from the courts, the press and the politicians. I can take any criticism as long as I know what I am doing is right. Do you think it is humanly possible for me to read every file? I rely on my officers for that. Yes, I have introduced a transfer policy in the car because people are around in the same place for 20 years and this breeds centres of power, inefficiency and corruption. The CBI needs changes and fresh blood. Nobody writes a word when I do a good thing. But I am not looking for praise. I know it is your job to criticise and it is my job to do what I am doing.

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