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Editorial

TOI EDIT-Chidambaram Arrested

August 23, 2019 04:38 AM

COURTESY TOI AUG 23

Chidambaram Arrested
Once a powerful politician, he is now at the mercy of investigating agencies. Due process must prevail
Wednesday marked a high noon in CBI’s dogged attempts to arrest P Chidambaram over alleged involvement in clearing a foreign direct investment into INX Media owned by the now disgraced Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. Facing trial for the murder of her daughter, Indrani has now turned approver against the former finance and home minister. Going ahead, CBI must now prepare for the real work of making the charges stick.

Chidambaram’s objection to custodial interrogation claiming he has cooperated with CBI isn’t finding takers now. Delhi high court protected him from arrest for over a year but in its latest order has termed him prima facie the “kingpin” and “key conspirator” based on the facts that the court was privy to. It is essential now for CBI to bring these “facts” to the public domain through a chargesheet so that imputations and allegations aired through the media can end and concrete legal action can begin.


With its poor track record of prosecuting economic offences, a recent example being the 2G spectrum scam case, CBI has its task cut out. Yet CBI’s own actions on Wednesday bordered on incompetence. Its inability to trace the high-profile Chidambaram through much of the day in a high-security zone showed the agency in poor light. Its reputation can be redeemed by following due process and delivering justice in quick time. Due process is no esoteric concept but is at the very root of nurturing rule of law in the country.

If Chidambaram is indeed guilty of accepting bribes in exchange for FIPB approvals, it is a serious crime and he must be prosecuted. But it is incumbent on enforcement agencies to prove a money link directly connecting him to FIPB approvals. In its absence intemperate actions can paralyse the bureaucracy and cripple ease of doing business, besides attracting charges of a political witch hunt. ED has now summoned former Haryana chief minister BS Hooda – while anti-corruption probes appear to have abated against Mukul Roy and Himanta Biswa Sarma after they joined BJP. Any general anti-corruption drive, to have a meaningful chance of success, cannot afford to be selective – or merely a tool to bring opposition politicians over to the ruling party. In Chidambaram’s specific case, CBI must bring charges to court forthwith and both the agency and Chidambaram must get fair chances to press their claims.

 

 
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