Tuesday, September 03, 2013

BoI Power List 2013: CBI director Ranjit Sinha ranked 2nd most powerful bureaucrat

A Caged Parrot. Really?
WHEN 1974 batch Bihar cadre IPS officer Ranjit Sinha was appointed as CBI director in November last year, there was nothing much about him in public domain, except that he was friendly with RJD leader Lalu Prasad, and he had some issues with Prasad’s successor in the ministry: Mamata Banerjee. The Opposition BJP did not like Sinha’s appointment, and it continued to term CBI as Congress Bureau of Investigation. And the Supreme Court called it a “caged parrot” as late as May this year. But very soon, the government of the day realised that forcing Sinha to toe its line was tough. In fact, Sinha draws his power not so much from his chair but from the…
unpredictability of each of his move. What has compounded the government’s woes is Sinha’s habit of freely interacting with the media and placing his points of view, including those who many bureaucrats would have preferred off-the-record, well in public domain. And according to BoI Power List, 2013, Sinha is India’s second most powerful bureaucrat, ranked even above cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and principal secretary to PM Pulok Chatterji. 
No one in the establishment could believe when they heard that Sinha’s sleuths were following railway officials for months before exposing the cash-for-post scam which resulted in railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s resignation. Usually, CBI does not nail the high and mighty of the establishment, and merely looks for small fries to punish. Similarly, he could have directed his officers to tell a few lies in the court to cover up then law minister Ashwani Kumar’s attempt to “manage” the coalgate scam. Instead, Sinha directed his officers to disclose to the court every minute detail of that supposedly secret meeting. The meeting, reportedly anchored by then law minister, was attended among others by officials of the PMO and coal ministry, and the agenda was to suitably tweak the CBI’s status report which was to be submitted to the court. The CBI’s affidavit to the court embarrassed the government, and Kumar lost his job.
Buoyed by the Supreme Court asking the government to free the caged parrot, Sinha has now demanded that the CBI director should be given a three-year fixed term. And the director’s power should be equivalent to a secretary to government of India. In that case, he could probe a government officer without taking the requisite and time-consuming government (DoPT) sanction. The demands also include that the agency should enjoy more financial autonomy. Understandably, more financial autonomy would help the agency shedding its image of “caged parrot that speaks in its master’s voice”, as was described by India’s apex court.
For the government, there is a bigger worry that may only escalate in the coming months. Will Sinha follow any dictate from the government to build up pressure on regional satraps and the opposition, so as to keep the coalition going? But the trickier question is: Who will bail the cat? And who in the government (post-Ashwani Kumar episode) would come forward to micro-manage Sinha and his agency?
Also Read 
3rd Most Powerful: Pulokaseth
4th Most Powerful: Ambassador Nirupama Rao
5th Most Powerful: Ex-IRS Aman Kumar Singh


  1. Who will be No 1 then? Finding it tough to guess. Is there a secretary who is more powerful than Pulok Chatterji or CBI director?

  2. All said and done, Coalgate and Railgate have not hurt the UPA much. Two ministers resigned, officials who were at these "tweaking," meetings have been transferred (at most) from one position to another with no damage to their careers, the government knows it still has the power of sanction for the go ahead to prosecuted senior level (Jt Secretary and above) babus and nothing will come out of Coalgate and Railgate. Already CBI has informed the SC that files have gone missing. Even if these lost files are found, the notes in these files may be missing and hence my firm belief is this is all a nautanki, a tamasha, and the corrupt UPA would continue its innings at the center unhindered. CBI has an unblemished record of protecting Congress, its leaders, its supporters and the babus (who support them). CBI has a long way to go to prove to India at large that it is independent and functions without fear and favour.


  3. Investigative agencies as a group may be
    ?????? D. Subba Rao/Raghuhuram Rajan may be ????? Omita Paul ???? Asok Khemka ?????? Young crop of daring civil servants as a group - Durga Shakti, Ravikant Singh, Satya Prasanth, Raju Narayana Swamy, Zia-ul-haq and many more who have dared to question the status quo would be a good choice.

  4. In which sense he is a powerful bureaucrat.CBI Director is itself a powerful post whom so ever appointed is always be powerful. But present Director has yet not surpasses the predecessor Mr A P Singh's credentials. Mr Ranjit Sinha is a media savvy and always be admired by the media professionals.