The saga of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director’s visitors is going from opaque to downright murky. The only person who can, and should, clear the air is CBI director Ranjit Sinha. With the credibility of the premier investigating agency at stake, it is imperative that the director not seek to obscure facts as he has done by saying that the entry book at his home was fake though some of the entries were authentic. The issue, which has come to light after a PIL was filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan, casts suspicion on the motives of the CBI, given that among the visitors to the director’s residence were people against whom there were serious charges of financial impropriety which the agency was investigating. In the first place, it must be asked, why the director was entertaining some of the accused, often allegedly up to 50 times, at his residence. Surely, if they wanted to plead their case, this could have been done at his office in the presence of his senior officials. The fact that many of the cases deal with corruption puts the director’s actions in an even poorer light, raising suspicions that he or his officials may have been complicit in them.
The CBI has long been accused of being the handmaiden of the government of the day. Mr Sinha’s conduct strengthens this belief. If indeed, all the visits to his residence by many of the accused were completely above board, why does he seem so eager to discredit the entry book? At one point, he even says he was unaware of the book. In which case, he may be accused of incompetence. Given his position, it is absolutely vital that he is able to account for all his meetings, whether in his house or office, especially when it concerns those under the agency’s scrutiny.
Mr Sinha must make a clean breast of things. He must explain what transpired at these frequent meetings. It is entirely fair that the accused give their side of the story but the manner in which it was done by visiting Mr Sinha’s house early in the morning or late at night and on numerous occasions suggests that this was not all there was to it. This unfortunate turn of events is perhaps the appropriate occasion to take a close look at the CBI and make its functioning much more transparent and time-bound. The home minister must take the lead on this. The cloud hanging over the agency in which common people still repose great faith will not go away in a hurry. Honesty is the best policy, and perhaps this could be a guiding principle for Mr Sinha as he begins to tell the public the truth behind his propensity to meet so many suspects so many times.