CBI not a tool in politicians’ hands, says new chief

August 1st, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Shimla, Aug 1 (IANS) Rubbishing charges that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a tool for the government to “settle scores”, the investigative agency’s new chief Ashwani Kumar said Friday that the “agency is a professional body that enjoys functional autonomy”. “It’s a professional organisation known throughout the world for its competence in cracking cases,” said Kumar, who was Himachal Pradesh director-general of police before being appointed the head of CBI.

However, he defended “legitimate interference” of the government.

“By ‘legitimate interference’ I mean directions from the government to investigate cases thoroughly and speedily.”

The 1973 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer said the agency was fully equipped to take on new challenges.

Regarding a huge backlog of cases with the CBI, he said: “It is a government agency and it cannot say no to any state government if a case is transferred to it.”

He, however, said only cases that have inter-state or international ramifications should be referred to the agency.

Kumar has worked with the CBI as joint director and later as additional director. He also had a stint with the elite Special Protection Group, the agency responsible for the protection of the incumbent and former prime ministers and their families.

Regarding his stint as the head of the state police, he said: “I am leaving the hill state as a satisfied officer.”

Meanwhile in Delhi, CBI Special Director M.L. Sharma, who was widely tipped to be the next chief of the agency, went on an indefinite leave.

“Sharma applied for leave late yesterday (Thursday) after Kumar’s name was notified for the director’s post,” a CBI official said Friday.

Sharma, 59, an officer of the 1972 IPS batch, has served in the CBI for over two decades and was one of the three people recommended to head the country’s premier investigating agency.

As per the directions of the Supreme Court, the post must have a mandatory tenure of two years. Sharma is currently left with only 10 months of service.

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