The crux of the Lokpal battle has finally boiled down to the issue of independence for the CBI. The fundamental problem today is that the CBI is under the clutches of the party in power. Further, every party is firmly under the control of its “high command”. What this means is that the CBI is completely under the control of a few powerful people from the ruling party. History is replete with examples of political parties using this control over the CBI to harass and target their opponents. The current UPA government for example initiated CBI investigations against Jagan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh after he had a fallout with the ruling UPA following his father’s untimely death. Other present favorite targets include Ms. Mayavati of the BSP, the Reddy brothers of the BJP, among others. Similarly, when the BJP was in power, Ms. Jayalalitha was believed to have been targeted. Not surprisingly, there are no CBI investigations against those in power from the current ruling party. Also, historically, Prime Ministers have tended to appoint only their most trusted men as CBI directors. In fact, appointments and exits of CBI chiefs have usually been in sync with prime ministerial tenures. Thus, the manipulation of the CBI by the party in power to suit their needs and help achieve their political goals cuts across party lines. This mode of operation has become part and parcel of our national politics.
Let me give you an example from cricket, India’s most popular sport. Today, in cricket neutral umpires (umpires from countries other than the two playing teams) are taken for granted. Before the introduction of neutral umpires there were frequent cries of bias by visiting cricket teams. For example, it was widely believed that its next to impossible to get a favorable LBW decision against Javed Miandad when touring Pakistan. There was once a serious altercation between English captain Mike Gatting and a Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana, over a bad umpiring decision. Likewise, umpires from New Zealand were under constant attack for their bias. Similar accusations have also been made against Indian umpires by visiting teams. But since the advent of neutral umpires, the accusations of bias have completely stopped. Today, the focus is mostly on the quality of decisions made by umpires. Further, metrics are available to analyze the performance of individual umpires and an international panel of umpires exists with a formal process for selection. Also, advancements in technology have made possible the introduction of the third umpire who has the luxury of watching television replays before deciding on an umpiring decision.