Says respect dividing line of policy-making and policing

Taking a cue from the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, has cautioned the investigating agencies to respect the line that divided policy-making and policing.

He also expressed displeasure on investigating agencies and other authorities such as Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) overstepping their limits.

“An offence is committed when a prescribed rule of conduct is violated. If there is no prescribed rule, or if there is no violation of a prescribed rule, there is no offence. It is not the business of the investigating agency to lay down a rule of conduct, nor it is the business of the investigating agency to presume a rule of conduct,” the Minister said in his remarks during a special session of an international conference organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

His remarks came a day after the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, advised the CBI to tread cautiously in policy matters. Both these remarks come in the backdrop of an FIR filed by the investigating agency against former Coal Secretary, P.C. Parakh, accusing him of criminal misconduct for allegedly reversing his decision on the allocation of Talabira coal block to Hindalco.

Chidambaram, further, said that even where a rule has been prescribed and if there is a policy behind that rule, it is not the business of the investigating agency to question the wisdom of that policy or to suggest a different policy that would be better in the view of the investigating agency.

“The investigating agency must confine itself to the question whether there has been a violation of a laid-down rule of conduct,” he advised.

‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’

Talking about celebrated epithet such as ‘Caged Bird’ or abusive nomenclature such as ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’ being used for CBI, the Finance Minister felt that none of the descriptions is correct or even well meaning. Some myths are carefully fostered and propagated in order to serve an immediate or narrow self-interest, he said.

“In a lighter vein, I may say that sometimes the CBI itself pretends to be ‘helpless victim’ when it pleads for more powers and greater autonomy! Hardly anyone seems to notice the contradiction when the same person pleads in favour of ‘more power to CBI’ and also rails against the alleged ‘expose of the CBI’. And hardly anyone pauses to ask how could the CBI do the bidding of a political party that has not been in Government during 12 years out of the last 35 years,” he said.

(This article was published on November 12, 2013)
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