Terming the Cabinet's decision on CBI autonomy as a "camouflage", leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Sunday said it creates an 'illusion' by replacing political executive with its proxy institution and the move should be opposed by one and all.
The BJP leader also charged the UPA with ensuring its longevity by misusing CBI in investigation of corruption cases against the leaders of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party and said its role in framing charges against BJP leaders in Gujarat and Rajasthan has demonstrated that "it is acting in order to serve the dictates of the party in power".
"The recent decision of the Union Cabinet based on GOM recommendations is a camouflage. It creates an illusion by removing the political executive and creating a proxy institution instead. The government's decision is a remedy worse than the existing problem," Jaitley said in an article.
He said media reports indicate that Cabinet has approved the recommendations of the group of ministers, which include greater financial powers to the agency, a provision for time bound sanctions to investigate government officials, appointment of a director by a collegium and the constitution of a panel of retired judges which will monitor investigations and ensure that there is no extraneous influence.
Opposing the move, Jaitley said in his article, "To create an institutional mechanism of unaccountable retired judges appointed by the government to whom the CBI would be accountable will only result in the government perpetuating its political control over the CBI by removing itself from the scene and creating a proxy institution which will act on its behalf. This move should be opposed by one and all."
He demanded that the government should place before the Supreme Court the recommendations of the Select Committee, the Cabinet decision of January 31, 2013 alongwith suggestions of other political parties that would result in ensuring immunity of CBI from political interference.
"We are not asking for powers to snoop on the conversations between two entities or to do phone-tapping. We are only asking for CDR details of the persons that we are investigating and we want to know about the parties they (the entities under probe) have been interacting with," the SEBI Chairman had said, adding that it did not want tapping powers.
The phone-tapping powers are restricted to only to nine agencies in India, including CBI and the I-T department.
SEBI has used CDRs in some cases to prove charges against entities under its probe but currently it has to depend on other authorised agencies to get these records as it does not have direct powers to ask telecom firms or others for CDRs.
For about two years now, SEBI has been seeking direct powers to access call data records as it feels these information being routed through other entities may delay the probe and consequently affect the investigation process.
Currently, police rely on a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure to requisition CDRs from telecom operators as there is no provision under the Indian Telegraph Act to specifically ask permission from the home ministry for CDRs.
This has led to a rising number of requests for phone tapping. Indian Telegraph Rules are silent on CDRs. So, when an intelligence agency actually requires only CDRs, it has no option but to ask for permission to tap the phone.
When the issue of illegally obtained CDRs of BJP leader Arun Jaitley came to light, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had admitted the gaps in law on CDRs.
"While there is a law for intercepting telephones, there is no such thing for CDR. Jaitley's case was not the monitoring of telephone conversation (phone tapping) but accessing of CDR," Shinde had told Parliament.