'Given CBI past record, SC monitoring not enough'

The Supreme Court has begun monitoring the CBI probe into the 2G spectrum scam but former chief justice of India JS Verma, who set the precedent for monitoring a CBI probe a decade ago, said he was still "concerned" about the fate of the probe.

He said there were legal limits to how much the SC could monitor the probe and the CBI’s record in the past had not been very encouraging. "Because the SC while monitoring, as in the hawala (Jain diary) case, will only ensure that they complete the probe… In monitoring, the SC doesn’t examine or make comments on the merits of the case. That is for the court of general jurisdiction (trial court),"

The SC had evolved the concept of "continuing mandamus" in the hawala case. This meant that rather than just directing a public authority to perform its duty, it did not close the case but required the authority — the CBI in this case — to perform and report till the task was over. The CBI circumvented the monitoring by filing charge-sheets against all the accused. But the charge-sheets were "half-baked" and only based on corroborative evidence. "Once they reported the charge-sheet was filed, the monitoring was over." "If the investigation is lax, or further probe is needed, you (the SC) do not examine the merits in monitoring," he said.

Verma attributed his fears to the CBI's inability to rise to the occasion in the past when powerful people are involved. "...With all the autonomy and independence given to the CBI... The subsequent record (on hawala) has not been very encouraging."

Does he think the CBI will act differently in the 2G case? "I can only keep hoping," Justice Verma replied. "...Because if they can’t do it now, they never will."


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