Hyderabad: The Central Bureau of Investigation booked 342 government employees last year under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
At the same time, 158 cases ended in acquittal and more than 400 accused booked across India walked free. This means 45.7 per cent of the total cases booked by the CBI led to an acquittal.
The reasons for the high percentage of acquittals are many, including the CBI’s failure to establish evidence. The CBI’s policy states that there must be no role of government and its office in the course of the investigation. Howe-ver, as the CBI vs CBI fight exposed, the interference does exist.
Mallesh Rao, senior advocate in the High Court, says, “It’s a fact that CBI has untrained officers to investigate into cases especially of bodily offences. In recent times, many bodily offence cases are being transferred to the CBI and those are leading to acquittal. The CBI acts as per the Delhi Police Act, which pertains to the economic offence committed by a Central government employee. All the officials in the CBI are meant to deal with economic offence only.”
The CBI studies dozens of witnesses and documents, which delays filing of the chargesheet. In one case the CBI took 10 years to file a chargesheet. The punishment for the accused booked by the CBI is usually around three years, but the cases can run for up to 10 years, and the accused completes time in prison even before the CBI trial begins.
In cases involving financial fraud, the CBI has taken up to 12 years to file a chargesheet.
Other reasons for the poor conviction rate are archaic infrastructure, pending transfers, vacant additional posts of public prosecutors, and pending modernisation of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.
A senior officer with the CBI says the Central government does not intervene in the investigation of cases carried out by the agency.
“The Central Vigilance Commission conducts a monthly meeting with the director of the CBI, to review the progress of investigation of cases. There is a laid down procedure in the CBI Crime manual to scrutinise and examine the cases ending in acquittal CBI with reference to the justification of acquittal; whether any material is available for filing an appeal against the acquittal or discharge or whether a reference needs to be made to the Attorney General or his nominee to ascertain if the acquittal was due to flawed investigation or prosecution and to fix responsibility.”
The CBI cases involving former UP chief ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav, former Samajwadi Party president or Mayawati, BSP chief, stand as examples where the government interferes with the investigation.
Whenever the government at the Centre wanted to put pressure on them, the CBI was used to pursue the case of disproportionate assets against them. When the politicians came around, the investigation went cold....