New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday, October 20, came down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for filing its petitions and submissions to the court as “Republic of India”.
“Why have you filed as the ‘Republic of India’? You are not representing the Union or the Republic. You don’t represent the Union of India? You cannot file your petitions like that,” Hindustan Times quoted a division Bench of Justice A.S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal as saying
The court reminded the CBI that its mandate under the law is to probe illegalities of both Union and state governments an independent agency.
After the remarks, the Bench ordered the cause-title of the case be altered by the court registry, omitting the words ‘Republic of India’. Additional solicitor general (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati agreed with the court’s directive.
It is pertinent to recall that in November 2021, the West Bengal government moved the Supreme Court questioning the CBI’s jurisdiction to register first information reports (FIRs) and conduct investigations in states. Instead of making CBI, an autonomous agency, a party to the case, the West Bengal government made the Union government a party. The Union government then said that it has no power over the exercise of authority by an autonomous body like the CBI.
However, information from the Supreme Court website reveals that there are a number of cases where the CBI represented itself as the ‘Republic of India’ and not as ‘CBI’, HT report said.
The hearing in question pertains to CBI’s appeal against bail granted to Subhra Kundu, a former actress and the wife of Gautam Kundu who runs a chit-fund company called Rose Valley. The company is accused of a multi-crore scam which is currently under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Pegged at Rs 17,000 crore, the alleged scam is the biggest in the history of West Bengal. The Supreme Court had in 2014 ordered the CBI to investigate the role of influential people involved in money laundering in the state. According to the probe agency, the chit-fund group had established 27 companies, of which only 12 were active. The group is accused of hoodwinking gullible investors by promising inflated returns on their investments between 8% and 27%. Investigation is currently underway in both West Bengal and Odisha.
The Odisha high court in August 2022 granted bail to Subhra Kundu, which is being challenged by the CBI in the top court.