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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday asked the CBI to differentiate between errors of judgement and criminal act in dealing with policy matters even as the agency chief Ranjit Sinha said there was no scope for impropriety in implementing policies for economic growth.
Singh’s comments come at a time when his government is under the CBI scanner for the alleged wrongdoings in the allocation of coal blocks between 2006-09, the period during which the PM handled the coal ministry.
“It is important that errors of judgement are distinguished from criminal acts….Decision-making in a world of uncertainty is a highly risky operation…. Our administrative setup has to be so managed that the fear of the unknown must not lead to paralysis in decision-making,” Singh said addressing a function celebrating 50 years of the CBI.
The government has on many occasions expressed displeasure over the decision-making process coming to standstill because of a ‘sense of fear’ prevailing among the bureaucracy and industry due to ‘intense scrutiny’ of probe agencies.Singh conveyed the same on Monday. He said since the investigating agencies were increasingly questioning the matters related to policy-making, they needed to be careful about "pronouncing decisions taken with no ill-intention within the prevailing policy as criminal misconduct (as it) would certainly be flawed and excessive".
Speaking before Singh, CBI director Ranjit Sinha, however, said to attain a fast economic growth, rules couldn’t be bypassed in the name of quick decision-making.
“….While there is a need for fast economic growth necessitating the need for quick decisions on exploitation of natural resources, the challenge for policy makers is to do it in a manner that there is no scope for impropriety,” Sinha said.
The PM termed as unfortunate the politicisation of the debate on CBI’s autonomy and leaks to the media about ongoing investigations in different cases.
“What is almost as distressing is that sensitive investigations are increasingly becoming subjects of running media commentary, often on the basis of material that is not otherwise in the public domain,” he said.
Telecom and law minister Kapil Sibal asked the anti-corruption agencies to develop a better understanding of government functioning.
“The government has to strike a fine balance between private and public good. There may therefore be some scope for judgmental discretion and scope for malpractices in the implementation of policies,” he said.