The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took nine years to convict the Chautalas in the junior basic teacher (JBT) recruitment scam, once again raising questions on the pressures the agency faces in cases involving politicians. A scrutiny of some cases involving big-name politicians shows that the CBI has taken a long time to take them to a logical conclusion. In fact, cases involving politicians have gone on for years, only to result in their acquittal.
Three cases were registered against P.V. Narasimha Rao after he demitted the Prime Minister’s post in 1996, the Lakhubhai Pathak case, the St Kitts forgery case and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) bribery case. Rao was convicted by the trial court in the JMM bribery case, but was acquitted by the Delhi High Court. In the St Kitts case, the trial court acquitted Narasimha Rao and his associates; the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal. In the Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case, Rao walked free after he was acquitted of charges of criminal conspiracy after more than eight years of investigation by the CBI. Rao’s acquittal in all three raised questions about the CBI’s ability to pursue cases against politicians.
A disproportionate assets case filed by the CBI against AIADMK’s J. Jayalalithaa in 1996, soon after the DMK’s return to power in Tamil Nadu is still going on. Last year, the Madras High Court quashed the proceedings against Jaya on her plea that there was an inordinate delay in the investigation and trial. Jayalalithaa was chargesheeted in the SPIC-TIDCO disinvestment case in which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had charge-sheeted Jayalalithaa in August 2000, when the DMK was in power. But in February 2004, a Special Court acquitted Jaya saying the CBI charge-sheet failed to prove the corruption case beyond doubt.
LALU PRASAD YADAV
CBI officials say that one of the most well known instances where political pressure played a vital role is the fodder scam. The charges in this scam were finally framed by a special CBI court in March 2012, nearly 16 years after the CBI was handed the case. Those who were named in the charge sheet include RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra and 32 others. Of the total 44 accused, six have died, two have turned approvers, and two others are evading arrest.
On 18 December 2006, a special CBI court acquitted Lalu Yadav in a disproportionate assets case filed against him by the agency in August 1998. The CBI was criticised for not appealing against this verdict in the high court.
The Bahujan Samaj Party supremo was facing a CBI inquiry for her alleged role in the Taj Corridor case, when in 2003 the CBI started probing the case after the Supreme Court ordered an enquiry. The CBI filed the charge sheet against Mayawati in 2007 and charged her with fraud and criminal conspiracy. However, in 2007, she won the Assembly elections and became Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and the then Governor, T.V. Rajeshwar denied legal permission to try her. The special CBI court dropped the proceedings of the Taj Corridor case on 5 June 2007.
Later, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by a local lawyer against the governor’s order, which is pending in the Allahabad High court. Earlier this year, while seeking the rejection of the PIL, the Central government and the CBI said that the PIL should be dismissed as the Governor’s order was challenged late. In another case, the Supreme Court last year quashed a nine-year-long disproportionate assets case against Mayawati, saying that that the CBI’s status report of September 2008 could not prove that Mayawati had amassed disproportionate assets between 1995 and 2003.
MULAYAM SINGH YADAV
The Samajwadi Party chief is facing a CBI probe in a case of disproportionate assets dating back to 2007. The Supreme Court had ordered a CBI inquiry against Mulayam Singh Yadav, sons Akhilesh and Prateek Yadav and daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav. After the SP lost power in 2007, the CBI told the Supreme Court that it had found prima facie evidence against the Yadavs to launch a criminal investigation. The then Solicitor General of India, G.E. Vahanvati suggested to the CBI in 2008 that the probe against the Yadavs should be closed. Earlier This was after the SP bailed out the Congress-led UPA government during a trust vote over the India-US nuclear deal. In March 2009, ahead of that year’s Lok Sabha elections, for which the Congress and the SP failed to strike a seat-sharing pact, the CBI approached the Supreme Court to start a criminal investigation against the Yadavs. Last year, the SC, while allowing the probe against the Yadavs, ruled that there would not be any probe against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Dimple as she did not hold an office of profit when the inquiry was started.