Back in the good old days, when the world was simpler, the Central Bureau of Investigation was celebrated mainly for colossal bungling in a long list of investigations into scams, from the Bofors scandal of 1987, via Coffingate in 1999, down to the Tatra truck scam of 2012. And then, on a summer’s day in 2013, a packed courtroom in the Supreme Court listened in rapt attention as Justice RM Lodha chewed out the top investigative agency, calling it “its master’s voice” and a “caged parrot”. The first appellation stuck for a few years, and the second for all time.
The distressing thing about caged parrots is that they do not sing. They mope, and silently foul their cages. In the manner of a faithful and routinely abused retainer, the CBI has always maintained that it is in good health and of independent spirit. No sir, the master did not yell at me for forgetting to harvest his cassava. And no, the mistress did not threaten to transfer me to Dantewada. Nothing to see here, sir, goodnight.
But now, the parrot has been divested of its cage. Two top officers have been temporarily relieved of their services, while the interim director has been relieved of his digital motor functions — he cannot sign off on any policy matter. It’s enough to make a parrot scream. Or sing. Oh yes, parrots do sing. They parrot conversations that they have overheard, or which they have been taught, including the unprintable parts. Freshly uncaged parrots now have courtrooms to sing to. If they take the cue, imagine what symphonies could emerge, after so many decades of being imposed upon in sullen silence. Shall we hear the voices of the bird’s many masters, especially the lurid parts? Or do garrulous parrots know that they are doomed to a sticky end?