DELHI(TNN): A trial court on Wednesday made scathing remarks about the Central Bureau of Investigation’s conduct in probing an alleged corruption case against the chief minister’s principal secretary, Rajendra Kumar, and others, saying the agency seemed to be in “haste” and appeared to have “abused its powers”.
The court held that seizure of some documents by the CBI “is in utter violation of clause 14.19 of the CBI manual” and “there was a deviation” in following procedures for probing the case, adding that the agency did not even carry out a preliminary enquiry before filing the FIR.
“The CBI cannot be clothed with divine powers to flout its own rules…in the garb of the search warrant. “The investigating agency cannot seize documents which are not in any way related to the case, and the documents seized in this manner is clearly an abuse of power,” said special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Jain, directing the agency to return the documents as demanded by the Delhi government.
While discussing the facts of the case against Kumar and others, the court said there are allegations that a public servant, while discharging his official duty, has misused his powers but there is no direct allegation of any pecuniary advantage and, therefore, some sort of preliminary inquiry is required. “However, in the present case, the FIR is registered on oral information. Thus, the proceedings initiated by the CBI appear to be in haste,” said the court.
The judge also made it clear that CBI had, despite a month-long probe, so far failed to show the seized documents were related to the allegations against Kumar or the other accused while the Delhi government had shown that the papers were in no way connected with the case. The court described as “baseless” CBI’s contention that there could be forgery of the documents if these were returned. “Even otherwise any kind of forgery in these documents do not relate to the present investigation,” the judge said.
The judge made the remarks while allowing Delhi government’s plea seeking return of the original CMO files seized by the CBI. The government said these were “indiscriminately” seized and were “completely unrelated” to the probe. These documents included the CM’s visitors directory, a cabinet note of June last year and some other diaries. The court agreed with the government’s submissions and said these documents were completely “unrelated” to the case and the agency had failed to give any explanation for retaining these documents.
The agency had opposed the government’s plea and argued that even the court had no powers to decide the admissibility of the documents at this stage. Ruling in the government’s favour, the court said it is not supposed to interfere in the probe but it had all powers to restrain CBI from abusing its authority during the search. “Using of that power by the court cannot be held to be interference in the investigation. That is why the apex court has held that if the police transgresses the circumscribed limits…then the court on being approached by the aggrieved person can redress the same,” it said.
The court, however, rejected the government’s prayer for stringent action against the CBI officials who had seized the documents in alleged violation of the provisions of the CBI manual. The judge said it found no merit in the contention that CBI’s action was malafide and on the dictates of the Centre to defame the state government in the garb of the present investigation. Though the government’s plea was allowed, it said CBI was at liberty to retain photocopies of the documents. CBI could again seize these documents, in accordance with the law, if they were required during its probe, it added.
CBI had raided the office of the principal secretary, Rajendra Kumar, on December 15, in relation to a corruption case. During the raids, the entry of officials and staff was banned on the third floor which houses the office of the chief minister.