It is not too difficult to imagine the beleaguered UPA government thinking of ways to use the CBI to fix its adversaries. The reputation got heightened with the raid on M.K. Stalin’s home, coming as it did soon after the DMK’s withdrawal of support to the government at the Centre. The CBI, on a ritualistic note, clarified in a statement that it had strictly followed procedures and did not intend to target individuals. This was just part of a larger investigation, it said, into a ring that imported luxury foreign cars evading duty. And one of these cars was a Rs 1.4 crore Hummer that had ended up with Stalin’s son, Udayanidhi. But one only needs to read between the lines to get the message. Ex-CBI director Joginder Singh says the agency can conduct raids in a case related to a private person without prior permission, there is no reason for the government to get involved. “So there is no need for political leaders to give any clarification about it,” he told Outlook.
DMK chief Karunanidhi lost no time alleging the raids were retributive. Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal is pretty sure the agency has been put to political uses. “There are enough instances to corroborate it,” she says. “They withdraw petitions and submit it arbitrarily as per political equations. Every step of the CBI is so very predictable.”
The CBI’s role has always been suspect. The bench of Justice Altamas Kabir had, in fact, openly pulled up the agency in 2009 while hearing a disproportionate assets case of Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying it would not allow the agency “to become a tool in the hands of the ruling party”. The Supreme Court had on March 1, 2007, ordered a CBI inquiry into allegations of disproportionate wealth being amassed by Mulayam and his relatives. In October 2007, the CBI moved court, seeking to place its status report on the Mulayam case before it instead of giving it to the government. More recently, on December 6 last year, it moved the apex court to withdraw its application.
The agency, however, is democratic in its flip-flop—for, former UP CM Mayawati claims to be at the receiving end in the disproportionate assets case against her! “I have been a victim of the misuse of CBI,” she has said. “Be it the BJP or Congress, both have misused the CBI.” Soon after parting ways with the BJP, she claims the NDA government had used the agency to target her. The appointment of police officers holding sensitive positions as governors has further clouded the credibility of the agency. The latest instance being of Ashwani Kumar being appointed as the governor of Nagaland. Kumar was a former director of the CBI and the person in charge of the security of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.