Coming out in support of former SEBI Chairman C.B Bhave and ex-member K.M Abraham, former bureaucrats have questioned the CBI’s “unfortunate action” of registering a Preliminary Enquiry against them for alleged irregularities in granting sanction to MCX Stock Exchange.

“Both Bhave and Abraham have an unblemished record,” former CAG Vinod Rai told PTI.

Former Central Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal also questioned CBI’s move against Bhave and Abraham. “The CBI has become highly controversial. Its reputation has become questionable,” Vittal alleged.

The Preliminary Enquiry (PE) was registered against Abraham and Bhave yesterday on issues of alleged irregularities in granting sanction to the MCX-SX by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2008 and renewing the recognition in 2009 and 2010.

The probe by CBI is to ascertain how MCX-SX was granted permission despite opposition by SEBI when Bhave was head of the regulatory authority.

The CBI’s enquiry has also named Jignesh Shah-founded Financial Technologies India Ltd (FTIL) and its commodity exchange arm MCX.

“It is very unfortunate to harass these people. In case they (Bhave and Abraham) have made wrong decision and there is no malafide intention in it, then they should not be harassed,” said E.A.S Sarma, former coal secretary.

He suggested a mechanism be put in place to safeguard honest officials.

“There has to be a rating for bureaucrats during their tenure. No case should be registered against an officer for any wrong decision if his intentions were not malafide.

“There is also a need for systematic reform. Instead of naming a person in an enquiry, the need is to take corrective steps in the system,” said Sarma.

Former IAS officer G Sundaram also supported Bhave and Abraham. “I don’t know them. Both of them are supposed to be good officers,” he said.

Sundaram also questioned suspension of some officials during their last days of retirement.

“There have been many instances where bureaucrats have been suspended on the last date of retirement. It is unfair,” he added.

Both Bhave and Abraham are former IAS officers and served at various important positions.

Bhave was SEBI Chairman between February 19, 2008 and February 17, 2011. Whereas, Abraham had served as whole-time member of SEBI between July 21, 2008 and July 20, 2011.

Abraham had in 2011 written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and alleged that certain corporates and Finance Ministry officials were exploiting the vulnerability of the market regulator, which was investigating crucial cases involving prominent business houses.

His charges were, however, rejected by the Finance Ministry.

Former bureaucrats had also criticised CBI’s action against former Coal Secretary P.C Parakh. CBI had in October last year registered a case against Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha in 2005.

Both Parakh and Birla had rejected allegations levelled against them by the CBI.

Role of CVC

Also, Supreme Court while hearing multi-crore coalgate case recently had termed as “mute spectator” to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

“We find that except for getting reports and progress reports of investigation there is nothing in your (CVC) hand,” a bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha had said, adding that “after investigation is done the report is submitted but the question is that the role of the CVC is just of a mute spectator“.

The CVC exercises superintendence over CBI to oversee investigations related to anti-corruption cases.

(This article was published on March 14, 2014)
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