The Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuffed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country’s top investigation agency, for its U-turns on submission of its probe report to the Centre in the disproportionate assets case involving Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh and his family members.
The Supreme Court made it clear that the CBI should not submit its probe report to the Centre. “It (the SC) did not want the agency to become an instrument in the hands of the Central government,” the court observed.
Admitting it “possibly committed a mistake” in its March 1, 2007 order by directing the CBI to submit its report to the Centre, a bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir said: “We intend to modify it.” After the March order, the CBI had filed an application seeking permission to submit the report to the apex court, as legal provisions governing its functioning did not permit it to send it to the Central or state government.
However, the CBI dramatically changed its stand after the SP rescued the UPA government in the July 22, 2008 trust vote. It filed a fresh application seeking withdrawal of its earlier application and permission to submit the report to the Centre.
Surprisingly, the CBI put it on record that its latest application was filed on “legal advice and directions of Union of India”.
While Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium pleaded that the CBI wanted to withdraw its earlier application, the court asked him why the probe agency wanted to submit the report to the Centre.
Pointing out that the CBI itself had explained to the court in its previous application that such a course was not permissible under the statutory provisions, the court sought to know “what has made you change your stand?”
The court’s repeated queries on the reasons behind the U-turn left the CBI red-faced and dumbstruck. Subramanium claimed the CBI’s application was an effort to uphold the law and Supreme Court directions. To this, the bench said: “But, we are inclined to modify our earlier order.”