Make us believe that the CBI’s belated actions are not about going through the motions
There are two ways in which one can look at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raids on the residences of former telecommunications minister A Raja and his aides: too little, too late, and better late than never. It has taken the Supreme Court’s intervention, and that too almost 14 months after the CBI had registered a case on October 21, 2009, against ‘unknown’ department of telecommunications officials and ‘unknown’ private persons and companies, for things to really start moving.
Officially, we are as close to bringing the guilty to justice as we were 14 months ago. And considering that those raided would be very dim to not have been ‘prepared’ over the intervening one year to remove incriminating evidence from their homes and offices — notwithstanding the claims made by the CBI of finding “incriminating documents” — there is strong justification in believing that what we are witnessing now is authorities going through the motions. But it is unhelpful to now focus on past feet-dragging. Instead, the only way forward is to put one’s finger firmly on the deadline of end-February 2011 provided by the CBI itself for the completion of the ‘final probe’.
The 2G scam, which according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has caused a presumtive loss of R1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer, has already spawned many side-stories. The Rajeev Chandrashekhar-Ratan Tata public spat is only the latest.
So the issue of a central minister hoovering up a staggering amount of money requires a dogged and focused judicial gaze of its own. With the Supreme Court now asking the CBI to take the time-line of its probe back to “include the period since 2001-02” when the ‘first-come-first-served policy’ was made the norm, it’s unlikely that the CBI’s February deadline for the final probe will be kept, unless a special ‘fast track’ court is quickly set up for the case. As in every other instance of corruption in the past close to the governmental bone, politics has entered the field to muddy the waters further. The investigative authorities, with the Supreme Court boring its eyes into the back of their necks, should proceed with a clear and unimpeded agenda: of bringing the guilty to the dock.
It is time that Mr Raja and all those suspected of hoodwinking the nation are finally interrogated by the CBI. Regardless of the ludicrous comments made by Mr Raja’s party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), about the “Dalit face of the party” being targeted, it is essential that the CBI sticks to its course and does its job of convincing the court that those it charged in October 2009 under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act are indeed guilty. For at stake is not only the credibility and reputation of the CBI, but also that of the nation.