DAINIK NATION BUREAU
The CBI has transferred the Investigating Officer (IO) of the ICICI Bank loan case, claiming a “discreet inquiry” pointed to “information leak”. The transfer was made a day after the CBI registered an FIR in the case after searches on January 22.
The agency’s move, however, has drawn criticism from Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who called it “investigative adventurism”. The Opposition Congress said the government was again interfering in the functioning of the agency, which went after its “suited-booted friends” this time.
Superintendent of Police Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra, who was part of the Banking and Securities Fraud Cell (BSFC), was shifted to the Economic Offences branch in Ranchi on Thursday, a day after the CBI filed a case against former ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon head Venugopal Dhoot.
Officials in the CBI said the agency carried out searches at multiple locations after the case was given to new IO Mohit Gupta. They, justifying the transfer, blamed Mishra for keeping the preliminary enquiry (PE) pending.
The officials said the PE gathered momentum after a review and was converted into a regular case, following which a case was registered and searches were proposed.
They also contended that the agency suspected the possibility of information regarding searches having been leaked. On Friday, Jaitley, who is recuperating in the US after a surgery, attributed “poor” conviction rate in India to “adventurism and megalomania” that “overtakes investigators and professionalism takes a back seat”.
In a blog post, he said, “When I read the list of potential targets in the ICICI case, the thought that crossed my mind was again the same—instead of focusing primarily on the target, is a journey to nowhere (or everywhere) being undertaken?”
The Congress, which alleges that the CBI is taking orders from the Union Government, questioned why the minister was “perturbed” since it was CBI’s standard procedure to treat “mistakes” as “corruption” and “carelessness” as “malice”.
In a Twitter post, Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Congress remarked, “The interference of the government in the CBI gets more brazen: CBI Director removed in a midnight coup at the mere hint of the Rafale scam investigation—CBI officer transferred because he ‘audaciously’ went after the government’s suited-booted friends.”