Thursday, September 18, 2014

Case against CBI director: Influential citizens ask Supreme Court CJ to protect whistleblower's identity

Prashant Bhushan
By Our Representative
Seven well-known activists and academics, Aruna Roy, Ajit Ranade, Jagdeep Chhokar, Nikhil Dey, Rajni Bakshi, Shailesh Gandhi and Trilochan Sastry, in an open letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India have said that there was a need to ponder if the September 15 apex court order to reveal the name the identity of the whistleblower in the case against CBI director Ranjit Sinha was not against the Whistleblowers’ Act, passed in Parliament. “It is true that the rules for the Act have not been made so far. But the nation and the courts had backed the idea and spirit of the whistleblower’s Act”, the letter insists.
Arguing in favour of why the name of the whistleblower should not and cannot be revealed, the letter says, “It appears to many citizens that the court is being misled into focusing on whether Prashant Bhushan got the record legitimately.” Senior advocate in the Supreme Court, Bhushan filed public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against the CBI director, alleging “unusual activities” of Sinha's meetings with influential tycoon representatives. It underlines, “If the allegations are true, the CBI director is getting enough opportunity to change, destroy or create evidence. People believe that this is a regular practice of those in power.”
The letter says, “Nearly two weeks back a visitor’s diary was shown by Prashant Bhushan to the Supreme Court which showed that a number of persons under investigation by CBI had been meeting its director at home quite frequently. If the allegation was true the CBI director should have at the very least been suspended. Ranjit Sinha at first did not challenge the veracity of the record but asked how it could have come to Prashant Bhushan.”
The letter further says, Sinha later “claimed that it was an intrusion on his privacy. He also stressed that he may have met a few persons who were being investigated and that some were family friends.” All this together led to a situation under which, on September 12, Sinha “demanded that Prashant Bhushan reveal the source of the diary.” And, based on Sinha’s, on September 15, “the Supreme Court has issued the same order.”
Pointing out that the apex court order “appears to go against the spirit of the Whistleblower’s Act passed by Parliament”, the letter argues, “The head of CBI is certainly a person of great power.” Based on this, it requests the court to consider three options:
  • Get all the supposed visitors who were being investigated or are likely to have been representatives of such persons to state whether they had visited the CBI director’s residence.
  • Get Ranjit Sinha to give a statement as to which persons named in the visitor’s diary never came to his house and whether any of his staff was present at these.
  • Get a special investigation team of persons with proven integrity to go through the records of the CBI to see if any link can be established between the supposed visits and the CBI’s investigations subsequently, and to talk with some of the supposed visitors.
Pointing out that in order to ensure that all this is meaningful, the letter demands, “the first two should be ordered to be done within a week and last within four weeks”, quoting Justice Verma, who “demonstrated that a report on a complex matter can be submitted in this time.” The letter underlines, “The credibility of the nation’s institutions is at stake and we request that the Supreme Court consider our request. We admit that our plea may be considered irregular, but we believe it is necessary in the interest of the nation.”

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