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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gujral forced me to quit Fodder Scam probe: Joginder Singh

“Tackle ‘big fish’ firmly and without fear”, PM Manmohan Singh said recently at a two-day conference to discuss the workings of the CBI. It openly reflects the gravity of state of affairs at agency and the uncalculated consequences of political interference in CBI’s workings.

Even the recent revelations in Aarushi murder probe are shocking and have raised doubts on the credentials of India’s premier investigation agency. There are many pending cases which emphasise the need to complete inquiries against those of doubtful integrity; and then there are those which were never ‘solved’ satisfactorily.

Devika Chhibber of Zeenews.com chatted up with former Director of CBI, Joginder Singh, popularly known as Joginder ‘Tiger’ Singh, seeking answers on the existing scenario and possible remedial measures.

Here are the excerpts:

Devika: ‘Evidence tampering’ is another twist in Aarushi murder case. What went wrong in the probe? Is CBI to be blamed?
Joginder Singh: Aarushi case was initially handled by the Noida police and all the mess which you can see today is because of them and the doctors’ negligence. CBI came into the picture very late, i.e. after 2-3 weeks. So, all the evidence was already tampered with and CBI could do nothing else except to pick up the leftovers to carry on the investigation. But the blame of tampering cannot be laid on CBI’s shoulders.

Devika: If CBI carries out all the investigations properly, then why is it that so many cases are still pending?
Singh: CBI can only investigate. What can it do if the witness denies everything in court which he has accepted in front of the police, and let me tell you that this happens all the time! There is no punishment for those who lie in front of court. What can we do? We are simply helpless in such situations.

Devika: So you are telling me that all the pending cases till date are the result of people backing out at the last moment. That’s what you call ‘lack of evidence’?
Singh: : I agree that in some cases, CBI is lacking, but most of the unsolved cases are because of insufficient evidences i.e. people backing out or due to government’s interference.

Devika: Can you please elaborate. What did you mean by government’s interference?
Singh: : In most of the cases, CBI has to deal with those who have strong political holds, and because CBI is not an autonomous body, the officers are unable to probe any further because it is the government that actually sanctions things. Moreover, only then we are allowed to probe. Without their permission we cannot probe to a degree that is required to go deep into the matter.

Devika: Did any such political pressure create impediments when you were the director?
Singh: : Yes, of course. I won’t call it political pressure, but yes, in cases relating to politicians, government did not give me permission and did try to restrict my moves. Even my transfer during my tenure was for the same reason.

Devika: Will you please share some such experience?
Singh: : I remember very clearly when I was investigating the fodder scam in which the prime suspect was the then Bihar CM Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, I was forced to stall my probe against him. Why, because he was close to the then United Front government. I even remember that conversation where the-then PM Mr Inder Kumar Gujral tried to stop my investigation by showcasing his power. He actually told me that he was ‘the PM’ and so I should listen to him. He forced me to leave the Fodder Scam Investigation.

Devika: This shows that CBI does not work freely….
Singh: : As stated earlier, CBI is never an autonomous body. It is just an image which is portrayed, but actually the functioning inside is not that liberal. You must be aware that CBI came into existence in 1943 when the Special Establishment Act was formed, which was once renewed in 1946. But that does not make it legal. We are still following those age old norms. Nothing has been done to renew the Act and the body, I must say today, is in the declining state of health.

Devika: Thank you so much sir but just one last thing. Now that you are out of the system, so as an outsider, what’s your take on CBI and the possible measures?
Singh: : I think that CBI can only perform well when it is not bound to follow the government. For this, a proper bill needs to be passed in the assembly, making it an autonomous body, and experts should be kept to guide juniors. The control can be vested in the hands of constitution directly. Unless this is done, a positive and concrete outcome cannot be accepted.

Here is the link: http://www.zeenews.com/news562134.html

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