Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by him will work towards giving CBI “functional autonomy” but at the same time asserted that accountability is “important”.
Chidambaram’s comments came three days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the constitution of the high-powered Group of Ministers (GoM) to finalise a plan of action to secure the autonomy of the CBI.
“We will give CBI functional autonomy and we will assure CBI will have a large degree of functional autonomy in matter of investigation,” said Chidambaram,who donned a hard hat and an orange colour construction worker suit,after he visited a construction site of the new Crossrail project in east London along with his British counterpart George Osborne.
The Finance Minister,who is on an official visit to the UK on the first leg of this three-nation tour to woo foreign investors,also addressed the issue of accountability.
“But all over the world — all bodies are accountable to somebody — they are accountable to executive,they are accountable to the legislature,they are accountable to the courts. I think what we have to ensure is that no one interferes with the investigations of the CBI,” he told a TV channel.
“I think what we have to do is to ensure that no one interferes with the investigation by the CBI that’s what we have to ensure and I am confident my group will assure that.”
With the Supreme Court setting a July 10 deadline for the Centre to come out with a law to insulate CBI from external influence,the Government on Tuesday constituted a five-member GoM to draft a new legislation for the agency “within three weeks”.
It also asked the ministerial body to prepare the draft affidavit to be filed in the apex court in this context within the same period.
The GoM was constituted against the backdrop of the stinging criticism of the CBI by the Supreme Court that the investigating agency is a “caged parrot” of its political masters.
Chidambaram also spoke on the issue of corruption,saying it is not only India’s story; in every country corruption allegations are common.
“One minister resigned not because of corruption but because of an allegation that he interfered with an investigation. The other minister resigned on moral grounds,there is no charge against him yet,no evidence against him yet,” he said while speaking about the resignations of Railways Minister Pawan Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
When asked about next year’s general elections and his reluctance to put himself forward as a prime ministerial candidate,Chidambaram said,”I am quite happy if you call it lack of ambition. So let’s say lack of ambition.”