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Report No. 161

1.2. Background of the problem.-

In order to gather the background facts which led the Hon'ble Supreme Court to issue directions to the Union of India, it would be pertinent to refer an extract from the order dated 30th January, 1996 [quoted under paragraph 10 of the decision in Vineet Narain case (supra)], as follows:-

"The gist of the allegations in the writ petition are that Government agencies, like the CBI and the revenue authorities have failed to perform their duties and legal obligations inasmuch as they have failed to properly investigate matters arising out of the seizure of the so called "Jain Dairies" in certain raids conducted by the CBI.

It is alleged that the apprehending of certain terrorists led to the discovery of financial support to them by clandestine and illegal means, by use of tainted funds obtained through 'havala' transactions; that this also disclosed a nexus between several important politicians, bureaucrats and criminals, who are all recipients of money from unlawful sources given for unlawful considerations; that the CBI and other Government agencies have failed to fully investigate into the matter and take it to the logical end point of the trail and to prosecute all persons who have committed any crime;

that this is being done with a view to protect the persons involved, who are very influential and powerful in the present set up; that the matter discloses a definite nexus between crime and corruption in public life at high places in the country which poses a serious threat to the integrity, security and economy of the nation; that probity in public life, to prevent erosion of the rule of law and the preservation of democracy in the country, requires that the Government agencies be compelled to duly perform their legal obligations and to proceed in accordance with law against each and every person involved, irrespective of the height at which he is placed in the power set up.

The facts and circumstances of the present case do indicate that it is of utmost public importance that this matter is examined thoroughly by this Court to ensure that all Government agencies, entrusted with the duty to discharge their functions and obligations in accordance with law, do so, bearing in mind constantly the concept of equality enshrined in the Constitution and the basic tenet of rule of law:

"Be you ever so high, the law is above you". Investigation into every accusation made against each and every person on a reasonable basis, irrespective of the position and status of that person, must be conducted and completed expeditiously. This is imperative to retain public confidence in the impartial working of the Government agencies. In this proceeding we are not concerned with the merits of the accusations or the individuals alleged to be involved, but only with the performance of the legal duty by the Government agencies to fairly, properly and fully investigate into every such accusation against every person, and to take the logical final action in accordance with law."

1.2.1. The facts of the said case disclosed to the Supreme Court a disturbing state of affairs. The court found that inertia on the part of investigating agencies was the common rule whenever the alleged offender was powerful person. Indeed, the very constitution and working of the investigating agencies, the court found, was at the root of their inability to perform whenever powerful persons are involved. In the words of the Supreme Court:

"3. This experience revealed to us the need for the insulation of these agencies from any extraneous influence to ensure the continuance of the good work they have commenced. It is this need which has impelled us to examine the structure of these agencies and to consider the necessary steps which would provide permanent insulation to the agencies against extraneous influence to enable them to discharge their duties in the manner required for proper implementation of the rule of law. Permanent measures are necessary to avoid the need of every matter being brought to the court for taking ad hoc measures to achieve the desired results.

This is the occasion for us to deal with the structure, constitution and the permanent measures necessary for having a fair and impartial agency. The faith and commitment to the rule of law exhibited by all concerned in these proceedings is the surest guarantee of the survival of democracy of which rule of law is the bedrock. The basic postulate of the concept of equality: 'Be you ever so high, the law is above you', has governed all steps taken by us in these proceedings."

"15. Inertia was the common rule whenever the alleged offender was a powerful person. Thus, it became necessary to take measures to ensure permanency in the remedial effect to prevent reversion to inertia of the agencies in such matters.

16. Everyone against whom there is reasonable suspicion of committing a crime has to be treated equally and similarly tinder the law and probity in public life is of great significance. The constitution and working of the investigating agencies revealed the lacuna of its inability to perform whenever powerful persons were involved. For this reason, a close examination of the constitution of these agencies and their control assumes significance. No doubt, the overall control of the agencies and responsibility of their functioning has to be in the executive, but then a scheme giving the needed insulation from extraneous influences even of the controlling executive, is imperative. It is this exercise which became necessary in these proceedings for the future. This is the surviving scope of these writ petitions."

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