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CBI has become the Central Bureau of Inactivity

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With top 2 CBI officers sent on leave & court restrictions, major investigations, registration of cases, even routine file work are crawling.

New Delhi: All major investigations, registration of cases and even file work seem to have come to a near halt in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) since director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana were sent on forced leave by the government after their ugly tussle became public.

No arrests are being made, no one is being called in for questioning, and no formal orders are being given to carry our raids.

Verma and Asthana, who have accused each other of corruption, were divested of their duties on 24 October. Interim chief Nageshwara Rao, meanwhile, was barred by the Supreme Court on 26 October from taking any “policy” or “major decisions”, with his brief restricted to “routine” matters.

The CBI registers, on average, over 40 FIRs a month across all its units, with 39 cases in September alone. However, since 23 October, the agency has only registered 16.

According to sources, most investigative work regarding sensitive matters has been put on hold till the Supreme Court takes a decision on the reinstatement of Verma as CBI director.

“Currently, there is no one to take major policy decisions, no one to give approvals for steps to be taken for further investigation in most of the cases,” said an officer, “In fact, the officers in charge of cases have kept most work on hold till this matter is decided.”

Also read: It’s now CBI vs media as ‘inconvenient’ reporters are removed from official WhatsApp group

On the line: Investigation against Mehul Choksi & Nirav Modi

It is the CBI director who takes a call on how and when to proceed with investigations in important cases, with the special director stepping in when the former is not available.

Their approval is needed before interceptions are made, raids conducted, or any accused is called in for questioning.

In the current scenario, in their absence, senior officers supervising these cases are hesitant to take a call on important matters, sources said.

The cases disrupted by this unprecedented churn in the CBI include the ones against diamond trader Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi for alleged bank fraud to the tune of thousands of crores.

For example, the Interpol had reportedly asked the CBI for some clarifications on the Mehul Choksi case — a requisite procedure before a Red Corner Notice is issued in someone’s name — but the agency did not respond.

Sources said the Enforcement Directorate, too, had asked for some facts on the Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi cases, but the CBI didn’t share any since there is no authority to vet the replies.

The other investigations affected include the Muzaffarpur shelter sex abuse case, as well as the IRCTC case involving corruption allegations against, among others, former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad.

“Investigations in cases are suffering because no one wants take a decision to make an arrest or call anyone for questioning,” said an officer.

“Even if the officers in charge of investigations are working on their respective cases, they are not getting a go-ahead from the top to act on anything,” an officer said. “There are important dates coming up ahead. Like the decision on Vijay Mallaya’s extradition by a London court on 10 December, but there will be no representative from the CBI there. It has never happened before,” he added.

Special director Rakesh Asthana was investigating the Mallya case and flew to London for each hearing.

Sources also said that officers were now reluctant to join the CBI on deputation. “Fearing that they might fall in the firing line, no officer wants to come to the CBI even on deputation, an officer said, “The agency is already facing a staff crunch and, on top of that, no officer is willing to join here.”

Also read: Continuing as CBI No. 2 would’ve put Asthana in embarrassing & awkward situation: CVC

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  1. I have never seen the CBI solve any case. Even a non political case like the Talwar murder couldn’t be solved by it.
    It needs to be shut down lock, stock and barrel.

  2. My heart tells me the CVC, with the guidance of Justice Patnaik, has found Director Alok Verma to be above board. If so, natural justice demanded he ought to have been restored to his office the moment the enquiry was over, even at night or on a weekend, mirroring the events of his being sent on leave. The apex court could have been informed of this development on Monday morning, its concurrence sought, which the Court would graciously have bestowed. Such an important institution should not be headless for even a day.

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