Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tunes of caged bird


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Truth is one thing, and arguments before courts are quite another. Arguments often have the capacity to turn truths into lies and lies into truths. Yet, truth must prevail; more so in the case of the nation’s premier investigation agency the CBI – the “caged bird” — or the Enforcement Directorate. CBI’s strange argument before the Supreme Court in a case filed against it by the West Bengal government is that this agency is, “not under the control of the Union of India.” Fact is, any governmental entity that operates within the national boundaries is directly or indirectly under the control of the central government. What is special about the Indian system is that authority is intertwined and no entity can take the law into its hands; and yet, lawlessness is all pervasive due to the failure of weak leaderships to properly govern the nation.
The argument from the West Bengal government was that the CBI was proceeding with investigations and filing of FIRs in several cases in the state though West Bengal had, in November 2018, withdrawn its consent to the federal agency to operate within its jurisdiction. As per provisions of law, such consent is a requirement and Andhra Pradesh too had taken a similar decision against CBI-ED entry to the state. In both cases, the issue arose when the central agencies initiated investigations into the suspected acts of corruption on the part of the Chief Ministers of these states or of their associates. How the Supreme Court would handle the case filed by the West Bengal government is worth a wait and watch. The Modi government should, on its own, have attempted a legal remedy to such situations for the future.
Fact is, there is no India if there are no states; and there are no states if there is no India as a nation. The federal structure, as per the Constitution, grants sufficient freedom to states to operate though there are grey areas in this centre-state relationship. It is here that the apex court adjudicates. Questions could arise that, if the state governments are left to their free will, what would happen to the collective interests of the nation. It is natural for those in power to seek and get more power and feel free. More so for the governments of regional parties. This is an invitation to danger. On the other hand, it is also that the CBI, ED etc have been largely ineffective under the Modi dispensation due to multiple factors, including a huge growth in corruption in their ranks and exertion of political influence over their functioning. It was mostly that these agencies were used by the Modi establishment to target its political opponents. These agencies, in the process, failed to do their job of high-end professional investigations.


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