Rahul Gandhi is lying, CBI cannot probe the Rafale deal on its own

As per the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the central government must approve a CBI investigation in any case except taking bribe.

After CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave pending enquiry on allegations against them, the Verma camp has been alleging that he was about to start an investigation into the Rafale deal, that’s why a scared central government removed him from his post.

This claim, made by Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, and many other politicians, activists and media houses, has two fundamental problems. First, the CBI or director had never said that they are going to probe the matter. How did opposition parties and activists know what was CBI planning to do? Does it mean that Verma or someone in CBI was leaking information about future probes? This raises a serious question about the functioning of the premier investigation agency.

The second and the real problem is, CBI can’t initiate such probes on its own. It must be allocated such cases by the central government or a competent court.

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The Central Bureau of Investigation was formed under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. It derives its power from section 2 of the act.

Section 6A of the Act states the following:

6A. Approval of Central Government to conduct, inquiry or investigation. —

(1) The Delhi Special Police Establishment shall not conduct any inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (49 of 1988) except with the previous approval of the Central Government where such allegation relates to—

(a) the employees of the Central Government of the level of Joint Secretary and above; and

(b) such officers as are appointed by the Central Government in corporations established by or under any Central Act, Government companies, societies and local authorities owned or controlled by that Government.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), no such approval shall be necessary for cases involving arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any gratification other than legal remuneration referred to in clause (c) of the Explanation to section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (49 of 1988)].

This section makes it clear that CBI can start a probe on its own only in cases of taking a bribe. And there are not bribe allegations in the Rafale deal. In fact, there is no clear allegation of any corruption in the deal. Rahul Gandhi and others keep talking that the deal is a big scam, but nobody is sure what is the exact scam here. Nobody has accused that anyone including Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken bribe either from Dassault or Reliance while awarding the contract to supply 36 Rafale jets. Dassault’s Rafale was selected after an extensive process during the UPA government, so there is no question about a substandard product being ordered.

There are allegations that NDA government is paying more for the jets, but that allegation can’t be probed by CBI on its own, that order must come either from central government or a court, according to the law.

Therefore, the claim that CBI Director Alok Verma was going to probe the Rafale deal is baseless. And if indeed he was going to do it as claimed by his camp, it would have been a violation of law, especially when the Supreme Court has already refused to pass any order in petitions against the Rafale deal, saying that allegations against the deal “appear to be grossly inadequate”.

Meanwhile, even the CBI has denied that the agency was probing the Rafale deal.

The agency has said that the reports of it probing the deal are false, and said that director Alok Verma did not collect any document related to the Rafale deal.


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