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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Poor conviction rate mars CBI's defence probe record

Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 17, 2013
First Published: 00:03 IST(17/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:05 IST(17/2/2013)

The AgustaWestland deal is now part of more than three dozen defence related probes that have been entrusted to the CBI since the UPA government began its tenure in May 2004 and it's a story of more misses than hits when it comes to take these probes to logical conclusion.

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The UPA tenure started with the CBI getting around 10 probes related to Tehelka tapes. It was classic case of how the premier anti-corruption agency of the country wilts under political pressure.

It was during the NDA regime, in 2001, when the Tehelka tapes exposed widespread corruption in the ministry of defence. But the CBI, rather than looking after actionable information in the Tehelka tapes, went after the journalists who exposed the corruption.

It took a regime change at the Centre, with the UPA coming to power, that the CBI registered 10 cases on the basis of Tehelka tapes against former BJP president Bangaru Laxman, Samta party leaders Jaya Jailey and RK Jain and around a dozen defence ministry officials. Out of these 10 cases, only one case against Laxman has ended in conviction for the agency. Rests of the cases are still pending in courts.

But in cases where the CBI was asked to probe allegations of bribery in a defence procurement deal, its record is much worst. And here the Bofors scam symbolises what ails the CBI.

Though, the Bofors probe started in the VP Singh's tenure as the prime minister, the NDA regime filed a chargesheet in the case in 1999 and its ghost was finally laid to rest in the UPA tenure when one by one all accused were discharged and the CBI closed the case.

The two British accounts where the alleged bribe money was lying were also unfrozen.

Few bright spots in this grim scenario are the Naval War Room case, the Adarsh scam and the Ordinance Factory Board scam of Kolkata wherein chargesheets were filed.


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