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Union Cabinet's decision on CBI autonomy fails to impress BJP

Union Cabinet's decision on CBI autonomy fails to impress BJP

The Union Cabinet's decision to set up a collegium for choosing the CBI Director has not impressed BJP which on Friday alleged the government is not serious about granting autonomy to the probe agency and continues to misuse it for its political gains. "We believe that the government move's to give autonomy to CBI is not only much delayed but is also far from perfect. Government should ensure real and effective autonomy to CBI as per the wish of the people, indicated by the courts and recommended by the Parliamentary committee," BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi told reporters in Delhi.

The Union Cabinet's decision to set up a collegium for choosing the CBI Director has not impressed BJP which on Friday alleged the government is not serious about granting autonomy to the probe agency and continues to misuse it for its political gains. "We believe that the government move's to give autonomy to CBI is not only much delayed but is also far from perfect. Government should ensure real and effective autonomy to CBI as per the wish of the people, indicated by the courts and recommended by the Parliamentary committee," BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi told reporters in Delhi.

The Cabinet had approved on Thursday a recommendation by a parliamentary panel that the CBI Director should be selected by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha. BJP alleged the Congress-led UPA government has misused and abused CBI not only against political opponents but also to make its allies fall in line.

"If the government is accepting this recommendation for giving more autonomy to CBI, it is because all options- be it from the moral, political, legal or constitutional points of view- were closed for it. Hence, in the absence of any option, the government was bound to do something," Trivedi said. Listing the instances where the government allegedly misused CBI, BJP said the agency was "misused" in 2G spectrum allocation case and in creating hurdles in adoption of the Public Accounts Committee by managing allies SP and BSP whose leaders are facing cases of disproportionate assets.

The main opposition charged that while CBI is used against opponents it goes soft against Congress leaders facing charges--be they social, religious, political or related to economic corruption. BJP said it appears unlikely that the government will be able to give a convincing opinion on July 3 to the Supreme

Court on providing real autonomy to CBI. "The massive misuse of most constitutional institutions and especially CBI that this Congress-led UPA government has made is unprecedented and condemnable," Trivedi charged.

The party alleged that even in coal blocks allocation scam all limits were crossed when the government tried to change the affidavit on the status report of CBI to cover-up corruption. "On several sensitive and national security and terrorism issues, CBI's shifting stand clearly proves its political misuse," Trivedi said. BJP also referred to two recent closure reports of CBI against a Congress leader accused in 1984 anti-Sikh riots and in another case against a close associate of the Congress President.

BJP also patted its back, saying it has raised the issue of more autonomy to CBI from time to time. The Rajya Sabha Select Committee on the Lokpal Bill had recommended the collegium for selecting the probe agency's Director. "On November 23, 2012, the leader of Opposition in both Houses had written to the Prime Minister stating that appointment of the CBI Director before the formation of the collegium is wrong but the government had ignored this," Trivedi said.

Later, a former CBI Director was appointed Governor of a state. BJP has been demanding that no post-retirement benefits should be given to CBI Directors. Trivedi also said it is surprising that CBI probes target Hindu leaders and charged that political interference is seen more before elections.

first published:June 28, 2013, 19:27 IST