By Sunil Dang
Ever since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge as Indian PM, there were speculations that his autocratic style of function may take a toll on the autonomous institutions. But, the speculations were washed-off citing the ‘Gujarat Model’ and its success. But, to the surprise of those Modi supporters, when the ‘Gang War of CBI’ surfaced in public domain, they were unable to gallop that Alok Verma, whom Modi chose as CBI Director after the Leader of Opposition Malikarjun Khadge not approving for the coveted post, had gone rebellious against the entire PMO. Verma not only went against the ‘blue eyed’ man of the PMO Rakesh Asthana, he also took pot shots against two PMO officials PK Mishra and Bhashkar Khulbe. In this very public CBI controversy, who comes out victorious, is a matter of speculation before November 12th Supreme Court hearing but one thing is sure that in this entire episode, the image of the CBI has received an irreparable blow.
However, at this juncture, I would like to add that this is not the first instance when an autonomous institution has been hit during Modi’s regime. When Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, he continuously suppressed the institution of Lokpal. Later on, when he became the Prime Minister of India, slowly and steadily various autonomous institutions like UPSC, Minority Commission, ICCR etc., have lost their sheen. But, nobody was expecting such a CBI civil war of sorts to surface in the public domain. But, my concern is graver. This CBI spat may burn the Indian Judiciary and CVC too. Since, the Supreme Court has asked a CVC enquiry under a retired Apex Court judge, I won’t be surprise if questions over the neutrality on the office of CVC surfaces in public domain. So, the two supreme authorities that can question the India government over any matter have been put in entropy.
Now comes the Indian Judiciary, which is facing major assault from both the BJP and some of the Hindu religious leaders (in the wake of delay in Ramjanmbhoomi Case). When the BJP President Amit Shah was in Kerala he said that courts should not give orders which cannot be implemented. Although he was speaking on the Sabarimala judgment reversing the ban on women’s entry into the temple, what he said has wider implications. If we go into the memory lanes, the Indian Judiciary has clearly banned parli burning but the various state governments have declined to implement that court orders. Similarly, in Satluj-Yamuna Link, court orders have been vilified by the state leadership for time immemorial. Now, in Sabrimala verdict too, the BJP leadership is trying to paint the Indian Judiciary as an institution that is not sensitive to the public sentiment. That colour is also getting visible in the Ram Temple case. The way Ayodhya Priests tried to pressurize the Chief Justice of India for delaying the justice in Ramjanmbhoomi Case and playing into the hands of opposition parties, who have pleaded to defer the verdict till 2019 Lok Sabha Polls, it seems like the BJP is trying to paint an image of the Indian Supreme Court as an organization, which is non-sensitive to the public sentiments through its umbrella of Hindu fundamental leaders. Therefore, after CBI, it will be CVC and Supreme Court facing the heat.
Now, the question is who would be the beneficiary of this whole exercise? Opposition is definitely not. Actually, there are some organizations — like CAG, CBI, CVC, Supreme Court etc. — that can challenge the government. Since, Modi is facing the Rafale heat both inside and outside the parliament and the CBI has already accepted the proposal from former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha to look into the Rafale Deal, the government seems to have sniffed the upcoming role of CVC and the Supreme Court. This exercise looks to question their integrity if such a scenario emerges. Is the opposition ready for that? Only time will tell. However, whoever comes out victorious in this political gambit, such autonomous bodies would be the ultimate casualty for sure.