Arun Jaitley who is recovering from a surgery has been drawing flak for allegedly meddling in the ICICI Bank case. Turns out that two days before the minister said that one of the reasons for poor conviction rate in India is that "adventurism and megalomania" overtakes investigators and professionalism takes a back seat, the investigating officer in the Chanda and Deepak Kochhar-Venugopal Dhoot case was transferred.
The officer, SP Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra, part of CBI's Banking and Securities Fraud Cell (BSFC) in Delhi, signed the Chanda Kochhar FIR on January 22. According to a report in The Indian Express, Mishra was transferred to the Economic Offences Branch in Ranchi the next day.
Two days after his transfer, Jaitley took to social media to express his views on 'investigative adventurism' that he said is a "journey to nowhere". "Adventurism leads to media leaks, ruins reputations and eventually invites strictures and not convictions. In the process, the targets are ruined because of harassment, loss of reputation and financial costs. It costs people their career," he wrote. "Professional investigation targets the real accused on the basis of actual and admissible evidences. It rules out fanciful presumptions. There is no personal malice or corruption. It targets the guilty and protects the innocent. It secures convictions and furthers public interest," Jaitley said. One of the reasons why conviction rates in India are poor is that "adventurism and megalomania overtakes our investigators and professionalism takes a back seat," he wrote.
His comments were retweeted by Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Sources told the daily that Jaitley's comments should not be misconstrued as they were merely "elderly advice". A senior government officer took the minister's side and said that Jaitley's comment was valid and asked how can one name top board members without evidence.
On the other hand, the Congress has been up in arms about Jaitley's comment and accused him of pressuring the CBI. The Congress alleges that Jaitley has been putting pressure on CBI to "go slow" in the case and that his comments amounted to rebuking and threatening the agency.
As mentioned in the daily, Jairam Ramesh said: "His statement is extraordinary. It is a clear signal to the CBI to go slow. It also smacks of double standards which, of course, is not new for him. He called Vodafone (case) tax terrorism and then did exactly the same thing in regard to Cairn. He calls ICICI case investigative adventurism yet does exactly the same in regard to his predecessor."
Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma lashed out on Jaitley and said that when he asked the CBI to operate within its gambit, the BJP "attacked" him.
Former Union Minister and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance M Veerappa Moily said that he does not believe that the statement was an off-the-cuff remark. He said that NDA ministers are "pressured by the party higher-ups".
However, former CBI Special Director NR Wasan who served in the agency for 18 years said, "This is a very poorly drafted FIR. Probe agencies never make roving enquiries. They should focus on the crime they are probing. This type of investigation will never see an end," as mentioned in the daily.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)