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Nov 11, 2013 at 08:06pm IST

PM cautions CBI, BJP calls it an argument of desperation

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday hit out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his statement on the Central Bureau of Investigation calling it a desperate argument.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "This is an argument of desperation by the Prime Minister. The CBI is being misused by your government to bail out those who support you politically."

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He added, "The Prime Minister has got no reply and he must introspect honestly if officers are not taking decisions today. They are fed up because they are forced to take wrong decisions for extraneous considerations."

The Prime Minister, the chief guest at the CBI Golden Jubilee celebrations, sounded a note of caution for the agency in its coal blocks allocation scam case investigations saying errors of judgement different from criminal acts. At a time when the image of the government and the Prime Minister's office were caught in the coalgate investigations, the Prime Minister also defended the CBI's legality in the wake of the Gauhati High Court order.

Singh said, "Some questions have come up recently about the legality of the CBI. Our government will look into that matter seriously. The government will do all that is necessary to establish the need for the CBI and its legitimacy and protect its past and future work."

While there was generosity from the Prime Minister on one hand, he also decided to check the CBI in the coal investigations which have been threatening to knock on the doors of the PMO.

Singh said, "Investigation into the cases of policy making and administration should be dealt with great care. While actions that prima facie show malafide intend or gain should certainly be questioned. Policy making is a multi-layered process and it is not right for investigating agency to judge policy without evidence of malafide."

This has been the strongest defence yet of the Coal Ministry which the Prime Minister has personally faced fire for especially in the CBI's latest FIR implicating former Coal Secretary PC Parakh for allegedly favoring Kumar Mangalam Birla owned Hindalco.

With the CBI's autonomy also having been questioned even by the Supreme Court off late, the Prime Minister chose to favor no interference in the agency's functioning but also made it clear how the agency was embedded in the Indian system.

Singh said, "It is worth introspecting if the debate on autonomy is losing sight of the fact that the CBI and other investigating agencies are part of the executive."

Within his 20-minute speech the Prime Minister went from defending the agency to also warning it on how a Laxman Rekha must be maintained. But will this make a difference in the CBI's functioning in some of the most sensitive ongoing cases?