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CBI finds the going tough in 'political cases'

CBI finds the going tough in 'political cases'

Author: Vishwa Mohan
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 10, 2007
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/India/CBI_finds_the_going_tough_in_political_cases/articleshow/1587170.cms

Political cases are proving tough nuts for CBI. Though the agency is working round-the-clock on cases like the Nithari killings, it is having to duck and weave when it comes to "regime-sensitive" cases like those involving railway minister Lalu Prasad, BSP supremo Mayawati and former Chattisgarh CM Ajit Jogi.

Doubts over the agency's functioning were raised by mediapersons on Friday when CBI chief Vijay Shanker met them to share CBI's progress through 2006, the year which saw him navigating around Lalu, Jogi and Mayawati.

Although Shanker put up a brave front, stating his commitment to adhere to the law and obey Supreme Court's directions in letter and spirit, he failed to give a time-frame for addressing these cases or even explain why CBI
had failed to challenge court decisions.

Facing uncomfortable questions as to whether the agency was waiting for the UP assembly polls to decide whether to prosecute Mayawati in the Taj Heritage Corridor case, Shanker said, "We are examining the matter and the directions of the Supreme Court will be implemented in letter and spirit."

When he was reminded that the apex court had issued directions in November but CBI was yet to prosecute her, Shanker said, "We will be doing it soon."

While quashing the agency's closure report, the SC on November 27 had taken strong exception to the CBI director referring the matter to Attorney-General Milon Banerji for his opinion a tactic that had been criticised by Opposition BJP as a deliberate move to kill the case despite the investigating team favouring Mayawati's prosecution.

Defending CBI's stand, Shanker said there were some gaps that needed to be filled in another case against Mayawati for possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income, and the agency had extensively questioned her in this regard last year.

Shanker had to face similar questions relating to the railway minister's case. Cornered over the delay in not appealing against the judgment of the designated CBI court which acquitted the minister on December 18, Shanker said the agency was studying the judgment and the matter was at an "advanced stage".

However, he said a final decision on whether to file an appeal, as per the rules, would have to be made by the Central government. "We will give our opinion soon in the matter," Shanker said.

To a question whether it would be embarrassing for the CBI if the Bihar government, on its own, filed an appeal against the railway minister's acquittal, Shanker said, "Well, I will not like to comment on this."

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