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CBI's actions not politically motivated: P C Sharma

Last updated on: December 06, 2003 20:39 IST

While handing over charge to his successor Uma Shankar Mishra on Saturday, outgoing Central Bureau of Investigation Director P C Sharma said the working of the premier investigating agency was not hampered by political pressure.

Sharma, who started his career as a police officer in Assam before joining the CBI, had lots of praise for the organisation. "It has one of the best teams in India."

But the CBI, which comes under the Union home ministry, has often been accused of bowing to pressure from the ruling coalition, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"I don't know how this image has come. I don't want to comment on what political parties think of us. But we are working objectively," he said. "If we bow to (political) pressures, the judiciary will not spare us."

Having served as CBI director for two years and eight months, Sharma asked people to judge its performance on the bases of its track record in dealing with high profile cases.

He defended the agency's work in the case involving bribery allegations against former Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo. In a video tape broadcast on television, Judeo is seen accepting money from a man who sought mining rights in Chhattisgarh on behalf of an Australian company.

The CBI is accused of focusing on the source of the tape rather than Judeo, who was shown accepting money.

Reacting to allegations that the CBI took a long time to file a case against Judeo, he said: "Preliminary investigations take at least one month. We had filed a case within that time. Verification of the authenticity of the tape, voice analysis and such things take time.

"We have served notices to Judeo, (his secretary Natwar) Rateria and all other concerned persons, including the hotel staff. They will appear before the CBI for questioning very soon," he said.

He refused to answer when asked if the nexus between politicians and criminals was an impediment to investigations. "The cases we handle involve high profile people. They hire big lawyers and challenge decisions of lower courts in higher courts," he said while addressing a press conference in Delhi along with Mishra.

He pointed out to the success in important cases like the Haren Pandya murder case in Gujarat and Madhumita Shukla murder case in Uttar Pradesh, which were investigated during his tenure. The accused in the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons were convicted.

"I wanted to get (underworld figure) Abu Salem and Monika Bedi too. We have succeeded partially. They will be brought back to India very soon," he said.

The CBI's primary duty is to keep a vigil on corruption but has been given the additional responsibility of solving cases involving top politicians and economic offences. The agency represents India in the Interpol, the international police organisation, and tackles cases of international terrorism and pursues people who fled the country after committing crimes in India.

As CBI chief, he focused on speedy investigation, modernisation of the force and training of its personnel. "These are long term investments."

Sharma will now serve as the vice-president of Interpol. "My agenda will be to bring back people who fled our country after committing crimes here," he said referring to underworld figures Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel. "I will do my best to build world opinion on the issue of extradition and deportation of criminals."
Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi