Larwrence Saez, a Spanish academic at the School of Oriental And African Studies (SOAS) in London, quoted the 2013 Supreme Court’s description of the CBI as a “caged parrot”, adding it was “not able to act freely and autonomously from political interference” and said there were concerns about the ED’s independence, giving evidence during the extradition trial of liquor and airline businessman Vijay Mallya.
The CBI and ED have brought fraud, criminal conspiracy, and money laundering charges against Mallya who is accused of defaulting on Rs 9,000 cr of loans. “Alarm bells have been ringing in recent years about the CBI’s political independence and raised by former CBI directors,” Saez said. “Ex-CBI head Joginder Singh in 2011 details the various ways investigations could be interfered with.
“The initial years of creation of the CBI were far more independent than now. In recent years both with the Congress-led coalition, but especially with the BJP, there are concerns about its independence,” Saez said.
He claimed Mallya’s case was heavily politicised as he was famous and the BJP and Congress were using the controversy to score political points. The BJP blames Congress for Mallya getting huge loans to bail out Kingfisher and Congress blames the BJP for allowing him to escape, he said. “The next general election is in 2019 so I suspect if no resolution to this extradition case is brought forth conclusively, it will continue to be used for political purposes,” he added.
Saez also alleged banking executives were put under pressure by Asthana to file an FIR against Mallya and later complained of coercion.
Clare Montgomery QC, representing Mallya, questioned the CBI’s competence in investigating Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. She said:”In November, it emerged in a sworn statement from the CBI investigating officer that he had deliberately left out of a statement said to amount to a confession by the person (A G Perarivalan) who is meant to have supplied batteries to make the bomb that he had no idea as to purpose batteries would be used.”
Saez said data from 30 states in India gathered between 1988 and 2009 showed that “anti-corruption institutions were subject to manipulation during elections when there was an increase in corruption cases”.
“If it happens around election cycles it suggests a politicisation of allegations,” he said.
Saez described Rakesh Asthana’s promotion to special director of the CBI as “highly controversial” and said it was only because he and an NGO raised it, that a public interest litigation was filed. Asthana’s name was found on torn pages inside a Gujarat-based company when raided by the income tax department that indicated suspicious transactions. Outside court Asthana told TOI these allegations were rubbish. “They have not been able to establish it was me. It could be any Rakesh Asthana,” he said.
Source : timesofindia