Not CBI's job to lay down rule of conduct, says Chidambaram

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  1. Ray

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    Not CBI's job to lay down rule of conduct, says Chidambaram

    A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the CBI to tread cautiously while probing administrative and policy decisions, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday criticised it for "overstepping" its limits.
    Addressing the CBI's conference, Chidambaram said, "Unfortunately, there are a number of cases where investigating agencies and other authorities like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have overstepped their limits and attempted to convert bona fide executive decisions into either crimes or abuse of authority."

    Cautioning the agency to respect the line that divides policy-making and policing, he said, "It is not the business of the investigating agency to lay down a rule of conduct nor is it the business of the investigating agency to presume a rule of conduct. Even where a rule has been prescribed, if there is a policy behind that rule, it is not the business of the investigating agency to question the wisdom of the policy or to suggest a different policy that would be better in the view of the investigating agency."

    He said investigating agencies should tread carefully before they conclude that a business or commercial decision amounts to a crime. "This is where the state of mind comes in. In my view, it would be wholly opposed to common sense and fair play if the investigating agency ignored the state of mind and, absent any motive or criminal intent, jumped to the conclusion that a business or a commercial decision amounted to a crime," he said. Referring to the "caged parrot" term given to CBI, Chidambaram said there are several myths about the agency, ranging from "caged bird" to "Congress Bureau of Investigation". "None of the descriptions is correct or even well-meaning. Some myths are carefully fostered and propagated in order to serve immediate or narrow self-interest," he said.

    The Finance Minister noted that sometimes the CBI itself pretends to be a "helpless victim" when it pleads for more powers and greater autonomy. "Hardly anyone seems to notice the contradiction when the same person pleads in favour of 'more powers to CBI' and also rails against the alleged 'excesses of the CBI'. And hardly anyone pauses to ask how could the CBI do the bidding of a political party that has not been in government during 12 years out of the last 35 years," he said.

    During his interaction with CBI officers, asked why investigators should assume the role of the court in proving criminality, Chidambaram said, "Investigators must be able to cross a threshold before a person is charged. Just as, howsoever high one may be, the law is above you, what you said is a sacred principle, equally sacred principle is that every person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt."

    He said before pressing charges in matters of financial crimes, investigators must cross the threshold that there was a criminal intent behind the decision under question.

    Chidambaram, who also headed the Group of Ministers on CBI's autonomy, said the government would give functional autonomy to it but the agency would be governed by the general rules of the executive government. "We have conceded all the powers that will give you functional autonomy along with investigative autonomy. We have done our best to give you that functional autonomy... But the autonomous powers must be exercised as part of the executive government. I want you to remember that you are part of the executive," he said.

    Meanwhile, CBI director Ranjit Sinha said that in this era of globalised economy and electronic banking and commerce, the threat faced is also global. "The growth of economy and its globalisation in the past three decades is primarily enabled by technology. The fraudsters are not lagging behind in adopting technology in committing financial crimes. In fact, they are quite adept at using technology to commit crime," he said.

    "Such pervasive threat of crime and corruption poses significant challenges not only to corporates but also to the nation's economy itself," he said.

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    Apparently the Govt has been deeply embarrassed by the fact that their hand picked persons in these Constitution bodies have caught the Govt and its cronies dig deep into the national till.

    What conduct should these bodies not delve into?

    The misconduct in the conduct leading to broad daylight thievery?

    Indeed, all the 'acts' in the various scams were 'bonafide', right, Mr C?
     
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