In absence of CBI top bosses, investigating agency struggles to handle critical cases

New Delhi: With a London court verdict on fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s extradition due on December 10, it’s still unclear on who will represent the controversy-hit CBI at the hearing, with its top bosses Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana on a forced leave.

Moreover, Mallya’s case isn’t that the only one which the Indian investigating is unclear about. If the reports are to be believed the officer in the agency are shying away from taking decisions in pending cases amidst the bureaucratic upheaval that followed Asthana’s public tiff with CBI chief Alok Verma.

“As most officers are unwilling to take on new responsibilities in such a scenario, they are not putting anything on file. Many cases are suffering because of this,” a senior CBI officer was quoted as saying in media reports.

Sources in the CBI concede that its decision-making system has received a big blow due to the controversy, with seniors fearful of contradicting juniors and vice versa. “Work in many important cases is suffering. Approvals are pending,” a senior officer told NDTV.

Lack of functional staffers is cited as a major cause for this logjam. Besides the director and special director, who have both been sent on leave, three additional directors — including acting director Nageshwar Rao — have been forbidden from taking any policy decisions by the Supreme Court. “The director of prosecution’s post will get vacant on December 23, and we have to pick a new one before that. The process, although initiated, has taken a hit in the absence of a functional head,” the officer said.

Here are the major cases which are lacking due dilligence right now:

PNB fraud case against Mehul Choksi: Recently, the Interpol some clarifications from the CBI in a case against another fugitive businessman, Mehul Choksi, but the investigation agency was reportedly unable to comply for this very reason. Choksi reportedly raised concerns about the poor prison conditions in India which the CBI completely failed to address. The CBI has also not taken Deepak Kulkarni, an associate of Mr Choksi, into custody because of its reluctance to initiate action in such a sensitive case. Incidentally, the fugitive businessman had sued the Antiguan government a few days ago for examining an extradition petition from India. The hearing in the case is scheduled for November 14.

Muzzafarpur shelter home case: The probe into the Muzzafarpur case, which concerned the sexual exploitation of minors at government-aided shelter, has also been affected. “Although the agency recently recovered a skull and some bones from a cremation ground near the shelter home, it is yet to constitute a team of medical and forensic experts to check if they belong to a girl who went missing,” an officer said. The registration rate of cases has plummeted too, with only seven minor ones being filed since October 22. Earlier, the agency used to register at least 36 cases a month.