The passage of the Lokpal Bill by Parliament this year is likely to bring a major change in the working of CBI since the Supreme Court order in the Vineet Narain case in 1997, which had brought in the supervision of Central Vigilance Commission and gave CBI chief a fixed tenure of two years aimed at freeing the agency from the clutches of bureaucracy. (Agencies)
The angry comments of the Apex Court not only claimed the ministerial scalp of Kumar, but also set in motion the modalities for the autonomy of the agency, which according to Supreme Court, has become ‘voice of its political masters’.
The battered government scrambled its best brains in the Cabinet to constitute a group of ministers, which met a number of times, and came up with suggestions to give only ‘functional autonomy’ to the agency.
The financial powers of the CBI director were given a significant boost but the Centre did not agree to give him rank and powers on par with the Secretary of the Government of India.
The proposed Lokpal will have powers to refer cases to CBI and keep an eye on the ongoing probe. It will also have powers to transfer officers who will be probing cases referred by it.
Senior officials of the agency agree that new rules of procedure would be required for this change in working.
Even as clamour for giving autonomy to CBI was going on, the agency carried out a major search operation and arrested Vijay Singla, nephew of the then Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, and Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar.
Although Bansal was not named as an accused in the chargesheet filed by the agency, he had to resign from the Cabinet following the public outcry after the controversy.
Pursuing infamous cases of encounters in Gujarat – Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan - the agency stirred up a hornet's nest as it summoned senior officials of country's snooping agency - Intelligence Bureau for examination.
The agency's move to seek records and question senior officers of the intelligence apparatus turned into a bitter turf war between CBI and IB, with each trying to defend its action. The matter could only be resolved with the intervention of the Home Secretary.
CBI filed its first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case without naming any of the Intelligence Bureau officials in it. However, the supplementary chargesheets in both the cases are pending.
In the fag-end of the year, a CBI court in Ghaziabad pronounced verdict in the sensational murders of Aarushi and Hemraj, declaring parents of the 14-year-old girl – dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar - as guilty of the murders and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment.
Big ticket corruption cases continued to generate heat during the year with agency filing FIR against Aditya Birla Group Chairman KM Birla and former Coal Secretary PC Parakh in one of the coal scam cases. The allegations of any misconduct have been denied by Birla and Parakh.
CBI also registered case against Naveen Jindal, his company Jindal Steel and Power Limited and former coal minister N Dasari Rao in one of the coal scam cases. Both the accused have refuted allegations.
A major case of alleged corruption in defence sector surfaced as Italian authorities started probe into kickbacks paid to Indian authorities clinch Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal in favour of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland.
CBI swung into action after getting reference from the Defence Ministry which gave its go ahead to start the probe into the scandal.
In May, the CBI registered a case of corruption against former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi, his three cousins, three European middlemen, CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland and a number of Indian middlemen who were used to route the alleged illegal gratification.
Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and some BSNL officials also came under CBI net for allegedly installing over 300 high-speed telephone lines at his Chennai residence, that were purportedly extended to his brother's TV channel through a covert underground link.
CBI registered the FIR after two years of preliminary enquiry which had concluded that there was enough prima facie material to convert it into a regular FIR for further probe.
The agency also registered 14 preliminary enquiries related to intercepted conversations of lobbyist Niira Radia with various powerful personalities from business, media and political circles on the instructions of Supreme Court.
CBI did not hesitate to act against its own officers, who were allegedly involved in accepting bribe. It arrested its SP Vivek Dutt along with an Inspector Rajesh Karnatak for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs seven lakh from a person to settle his land dispute.
The agency also filed at least six chargesheets against YS Jaganmohan Reddy in connection with disproportionate assets case against him.
The agency's probe in Adarsh society scam received a major jolt after Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan refused sanction to prosecute former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the case. The agency is left with no legal remedy in its hand but drop charges against Chavan.
The passage of the Lokpal Bill by Parliament this year is likely to bring a major change in the working of CBI since the Supreme Court order in the Vineet Narain case in 1997, which had brought in the supervision of Central Vigilance Commission and gave CBI chief a fixed tenure of two years aimed at freeing the agency from the clutches of bureaucracy.