Beleaguered with allegations of shoddy working and already having had dressing down from the courts in face of its lackadaisical approach to investigate scams and scandals, the Central Bureau Investigation has earned scathing sarcasm on its modus operandi viz-a-viz Bofors gun scam. Receiving apex court’s flak for hurriedly filing closure report in the murder case of Aarushi Talwar as no sufficient evidences to nail the culprit, CBI is again in the Supreme Court’s crosshair for handling the Bofors kickbacks issue.
The ghost of Bofors has been resurrected as an Income Tax tribunal has ruled that Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi and his partner Win Chadha received a commission for facilitating the Rs 1,437 crore Howitzer gun deal in 1987. The ruling of I-T tribunal comes just as the CBI, citing lack of evidence, was preparing to close the case against Quattrocchi. It is surprising that the agency briefed the court that it didn't have enough evidence against Quattrochi to prosecute him in the Bofors payoff scandal whereas the tribunal has produced concrete proof of kickbacks having been deposited in the account of Quattrocchi. It is not a tribunal’s figment of imagination rather a true evidence which should not be written off.
Despite the evidence, how the CBI can give this plea that there is nothing new in the rulings of I-T tribunal. It seems that CBI and the ruling dispensation are trying to shield Quattrochi and bury the matter as Aditional Soliciter General appearing for the agency glossed over the fact saying that there is no direction from the government on the rulings of the tribunal. Now it is up to the Supreme Court to decide, but common people are compelled to reach the conclusion that the CBI has become a protégé of the ruling government.
Albeit the UPA government goes on saying that the CBI is an autonomous agency, but nobody seems to be buying the government’s proposition. It is crystal clear that the agency is controlled by the people in power, the CBI has lost its sheen. It is a paradox that the Central government is talking high on fighting against corruption but not ready to take a concrete step to make the agency same. Ministers and mandarins must know that the credibility of CBI, CVC and other agencies is on wane as they are not able to bridle the soaring corruption. If corruption control is on the top of the Congress’s agenda, as Prime Minister recently expressed, the government should first add more teeth to make CBI and its ilk capable and insulate agency from any political interference. Integrity and reliability of any government depends on how its systems are made sovereign and capable.