New Delhi: CBI was in for some harsh words today when former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishen Gandhi said the central probe agency had gained notoriety as "as government's hatchet" and "Department of Dirty Tricks" which was clothed in "opacity" with perfume of "mystery".
Delivering 15th D P Kohli Memorial Lecture today, Gandhi, who was CBI's guest speaker, minced no words while batting for bringing the agency within the purview of Right to Information Act (RTI) and making it "spectacularly" and not "sensationally" autonomous.
"It is seen as government's hatchet, rather than honesty's ally. It is often called DDT -- meaning not the dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane, the colourless, tasteless, odourless insecticide it should be, but the Department of Dirty Trick"," he said at the function where the entire CBI rank and file led by its Director Ranjit Sinha were present.
Referring to the issue of corruption, 69-year-old Gandhi, who is at present Chairman of Indian Institute of Advance Studies (IIAS), said CBI has a "mixed" image, not all of which was "flattering", and it will have to "change". He said the "RTI-trained" public will expect, prod and make the CBI an "instrument of change".
"The CBI is clothed in opacity, then ornamented by secrecy and finally perfumed by mystery." Gandhi pointed out that for sometime the CBI had come under RTI purview and during that period "heavens did not fall" but the opacity, secrecy and mystery made it move out of the Act.
"This is a great pity. The CBI is about investigations into corruption and certain crimes. It is not security or intelligence agency," he said while delivering a lecture on "Eclipse at Noon: Shadows over India's Conscience".
The lecture marked the formal closing of the year long golden jubilee celebration of CBI.
Gandhi, a former IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, said the perception about CBI being a department of dirty tricks needs to change.
"I will make a bold statement to say it will change, because the popular mood in the country in the matter of corruption has changed. The post-RTI India is an altogether new India. Every village in India has heard of the RTI and, what is more, it has used RTI, sometimes frivolously, sometimes perversely but, in the main part, transformationally and cleansingly."
He said the RTI-trained public is no longer going to take corruption as a standard feature of the administration. It will expect, prod and make the CBI be an instrument of change. The CBI is going to play a big role in the future of India's public.
"The CBI has nothing to lose and everything to gain by partnering the people of India," he said.
Touching upon the point of granting autonomy to the CBI, Gandhi said he favoured a "spectacularly autonomous" and not "sensationally" autonomous.