New Delhi: The alleged suicide of former Director-General of Corporate Affairs Bal Kishan Bansal and his family has put the spotlight once again on the long-standing debate on whether there should be clear guidelines for investigative agencies on conducting a raid or seizure.
Bansal - who was under investigation for bribery and corruption charges - and his son were found dead on Tuesday morning in their New Delhi residence. His wife and daughter committed suicide three months ago, days after the CBI had raided their house.
Incidentally, a day earlier, the Supreme Court had admitted a PIL on issuing guidelines to CBI while conducting seizure and raid. The litigant, Upendra Rai, had decided to approach the court after the suicide of Bansal's wife and daughter.
Advocate Keshav Mohan who had filed the PIL on behalf of Rai – also the CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka – said the guidelines would have come as comfort for Bansal whose wife and daughter committed suicide "after the humiliating CBI raids."
Mohan said Rai filed the plea after declaring that there was no personal interest in the matter and it was directed to serve the larger public interest. Though the trigger was the deaths of Bansal's wife and daughter, the PIL heavily relied on the raid conducted at the residence of Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh in September, 2015.
"These raids often start during the wee hours and stretch till midnight, thereby causing insurmountable harassment and mental agony. Virbhadra Singh’s residence was raided on the day of his daughter’s wedding. This is a complete attack on privacy, because home is a person’s private space and thereby violates Right to Life as enshrined by our constitution," Mohan told News18.
The issue of search and seizure guidelines has always split the law enforcement community with enough argument for and against.
Shantanu Sen, a former CBI official, said, "Counselling must be given to the affected individuals after raids are conducted so that any extreme step is not taken. We have to understand that an accused is not guilty unless convicted and when raids take place, it is always only on the basis of a suspicion. Hence, the CBI must act with restraint in such situations."
He further said that such kind of raids often has a deep impact on a person's mental health.
However, former Delhi Police Commissioner TR Kakkar said, "Such guidelines have absolutely no value unless the substantive law, The Criminal Procedure Code, is amended and they are incorporated therein."
He also criticized the idea saying that on one hand people complain that there is no fear of the police and on the other hand they want a competent authority to be informed of a planned raid.
"Such information would spread like wild fire and every accused will then safely escape the purpose for which CBI was instituted," he said.
CBI spokesperson Gaur refused to comment on the issue. "We are deeply saddened to know about the unfortunate demise of Shri BK Bansal and his son today. The matter is being looked into by the local police," he said.