The Biter Bitten
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's elite crime busting outfit entrusted with the most high-profile and sensitive cases, finds itself in the dock with the Supreme Court recently calling it "a caged parrot speaking in its master's voice". The context was the revelation that the CBI had allowed the government to influence its report on the coal blocks allocation scam. What the CBI is all about:
History: The forerunner of the CBI was the 'Special Police Establishment' set up by the British in 1941 to probe corruption relating to wartime supplies. Its ambit gradually expanded and it was reborn as the CBI in independent India on April 1, 1963.
Strength: The agency currently has a sanctioned strength of 6,586 officers of which 5,755 posts are filled. In 2012, it investigated 842 cases and held another 177 preliminary enquiries, filing charge sheets in 687 cases. Judgments in 1,188 cases probed by the CBI were delivered during the year, with a conviction rate of 67 per cent. Its sanctioned revenue budget for 2012/13 was Rs 334.36 crore.
Controversies: The coal allocation scam is only the latest of a host of controversies - starting with the Bofors kickback scam - in which the CBI was seen as more of a collaborator than an investigator. There have also been many cases of plain mishandling.
Reform: Major reforms in the CBI's functioning were suggested by the Supreme Court in its 1997 judgment in the Vineet Narain case. In the early 1990s, Narain, a journalist, filed a public interest litigation charging the CBI was trying to scuttle its own investigation into a money laundering case involving one Surendra Kumar Jain, as powerful politicians were also mixed up in it. The court's most crucial directive was that an independent Central Vigilance Commission be set up to which the CBI would report. This was duly done, and yet the CBI's functioning seems to have changed little.
The best things in life have never been free, but they cost more in some places than in others. Dating, for instance, is most expensive in Australian cities, according to a report by Deutsche Bank. Movie tickets and pizza costs in places like Melbourne and Sydney, it says, are the highest in the world. In contrast, Indians can take heart - Mumbai and Delhi, along with South Africa's Johannesburg, are best for low-cost dates.
A 'season ticket' issued by the Burnley Football Club in the United Kingdom for the 1884/85 season has made its way back to the club, and is being called the oldest ticket in existence. Red in colour and large in size, it has the ticket holder's name embossed on it. But it is not a purchased ticket - it belonged to Leonard Metcalfe, a member of the football team that year.
Dry Days Ahead
Around 400 canals and dams in Maharashtra are still incomplete, though well past their first commissioning deadline, says a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Their cost too has soared - 240 of them, which should have incurred a total expenditure of Rs 7,200 crore will now cost nearly Rs 32,000 crore.
Compiled by Basudha Das