Govt would never have insulated us, it had to be through judiciary: CBI chief

CBI chiefCBI Director Ranjit Sinha

In a rare and candid admission by a CBI chief, Ranjit Sinha Friday said that there was no doubt that the premier investigation agency was not fully independent and the government would not have taken steps to insulate it if not for judicial intervention.

Sinha, whose affidavit to the Supreme Court in the coal allotment probe has created a political storm, said he is gladdened by the fact that some good will eventually come out of the "churning".

"I am convinced the executive would never have taken steps to insulate the CBI and it could only be done with judicial intervention. In my 37-year-long career, I have seen political interference in police functioning in the states and in other organizations. Now, in the sunset of my career, I am very pleased. The government is seriously going about bringing in a legislation to give CBI functional autonomy," Sinha told The Indian Express in an interview.

Sinha was referring to the directives by the apex court to the government earlier this week to enact an appropriate law to make the CBI a non-partisan agency and to prevent external influences from hampering its functioning.

While several of Sinha's predecessors have boasted that the CBI was independent, Sinha said that the agency was only relatively independent.

"Where is the doubt that the CBI is not totally independent?" he asked. "Anyone who says it is free of influence is speaking a blatant lie. The fact is that everybody has been doing it (interfering) but I am the first director who has been asked to give an affidavit before the Supreme Court. I was very clear I have to speak the truth and give all details."

Sinha said that things had somewhat changed for him at the CBI headquarters after the Supreme Court ruling.

"For one, the phones have stopped ringing. otherwise all sorts of people would keep calling me. Even my staff has commented on how only outgoing calls are being made. And at social gatherings people have been joking, 'tota aa gaya' (the parrot is here)," he said, referring to the Supreme Court comment that the CBI was a caged parrot. "But I have taken all this and the reprimand of the Supreme Court in my stride since I will be a catalyst to bring change."

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