It transpires that CBI Director Mr. Ranjit Sinha met with a large number of people at his residence who were charged with crimes and were under investigation by his agency. Unknown to him someone had prepared a log book in the form of a diary of all his visitors. One newspaper has identified the possible mystery diarist who had access to his house and made daily visits. The motive for keeping the log book and making it available to Aam Admi Party leader Mr. Prashant Bhushan who filed a case against the CBI Director in the Supreme Court is unclear. Mr. Sinha has countered Mr. Bhushan in court with a perjury charge and alleged a deep conspiracy being hatched against him. He demands to know who provided the diary to Mr. Bhushan.
After initial hesitation Mr. Sinha acknowledged meeting the named people in his residence. The list of people he met reads like a who’s who of all suspects in the major corruption cases. Mr. Sinha has categorically denied any wrongdoing or giving favours to any of the suspects he met. The media and politicians have gone to town with this information and are demanding Mr. Sinha’s resignation. The Supreme Court has rejected Mr. Sinha’s plea that the media be restrained from covering the case in order to protect his privacy and reputation. This is where matters rest at the moment of writing.
From available facts Mr. Sinha is guilty. He may not have given any favour to any of his visitors. He may have behaved with impeccable probity in his role as an investigator. But he is guilty of the most common lapse committed in the Indian system of administration. He is guilty of violating procedure. This writer never tires of stressing that the surest way to ruin administration is by violating procedure. If Mr. Sinha took the initiative to meet his visitors he should have gone to them or sent an agent and not invited them to his house. He should have called them to his office. If his visitors sought a meeting he should in the same manner have called them to his office and not residence. In office their meetings would have been on record. Following procedure strictly ensures transparency to create credible governance. By avoiding observance of a simple procedure Mr. Sinha has unnecessarily clouded the image of his functioning as Director of the CBI.
When will Indian officials and politicians learn to appreciate the crucial importance of procedure for ensuring good governance?