P Chidambaram fights back after being put on mat over corruption by CBI, CAG

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Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram with CBI Director Ranjit Sinha during a CBI conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram with CBI Director Ranjit Sinha during a CBI conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI
SummaryIn a hard-hitting speech, P Chidambaram flayed CBI, CAG for their stances that have hit UPA govt hard.

Asking CBI to respect the line that divides between policy making and policing, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today came down heavily on investigating agencies like CBI and CAG for "overstepping" their limits by attempting to convert bonafide executive decisions into either crimes or abuse of authority.

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the CBI to tread cautiously in policy matters, it was the turn of the Finance Minister to dwell at length on the functioning of the agency.

"Unfortunately, there are a number of cases where investigating agencies and other authorities like Comptroller and Auditor General, have overstepped their limits and attempted to convert bonafide executive decisions into either crime of abuse of authority," he said delivering his key note address on "building a criminal justice system to deal with financial crime" at Golden Jubilee function of CBI.

Chidambaram cautioned the agency to respect the line that divides policy-making and policing.

Referring to the role of public servants in financial crimes, the Finance Minster also said the investigating agency must confine itself to the question whether there has been a violation of laid down rule of conduct.

"It is not the business of the investigating agency to lay down a rule of conduct nor is it the business of the investigating agency to presume a rule of conduct.

"Even where a rule has been prescribed, if there is a policy behind that rule, it is not the business of the investigating agency to question the wisdom of the policy or to suggest a different policy that would be better in the view of the investigating agency," Chidambaram said.

The Finance Minster said as long as there are reasons given in support of a decision, such reasons should ordinarily rule out any criminal state of mind.

The Finance Minister said the investigating agencies should tread carefully before it reaches the conclusion that a business or commercial decision taken on the basis of available facts, amounts to a crime.

"This is where the state of mind comes in. In my view, it would be wholly opposed to common sense and fair play if the investigating agency ignored the state of mind and, absent any motive or criminal intent, jumped to the conclusion that a business or a commercial decision amounted to a crime," he said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General had recently questioned the policies adapted by the Government in the allocation of spectrum and coal block allocations--both the

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