Emphasising that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducts investigations as per “laid down rules, norms and procedures,” CBI Director Ashwani Kumar said here on Saturday that it was incorrect of the media to presume that the agency acted partially at the behest of the ruling party or ruling government.

“Our reports are submitted in writing. Copies are given to the court and also supplied free of cost to every accused…it is natural that some of the accused may approach the media for highlighting their point of view. We feel that the media should examine the matter dispassionately and then form its opinion. It is a myth to say that the CBI works at the behest of the powers that be,” Mr. Kumar said while delivering the inaugural speech for a training module for press correspondents that was organised by the CBI.

He also urged the media to refrain from “prejudicial” reporting and virtually running a media trial against the accused so much so that a fair trial is denied.

Pointing to the plethora of media-related jargons such as media trial, sting operation, surrogate advertising and paid news frequently talked about by people, Mr. Kumar raised the question as to whether “continued dissemination of news and analysis about the accused in the media” constituted media trial or not.

“It must be reminded that media does carry reports prejudicial to a person in question and it certainly affects the right of the person for a fair trial,” he added.

Outlining the CBI's role in investigating and prosecuting criminals and corrupt officials, Mr. Kumar said punishing the accused or declaring him guilty does not fall within the agency's purview since “scrutiny of evidence and conviction fall in the duties and powers of the courts.”

He, however, was somewhat critical of the pace with which the country's judiciary functions, pointing out that 9,000 CBI cases were pending in courts.

Expressing the hope of speedy trial once the 71 additional special courts sanctioned by the Centre starts functioning along with the existing 64 special courts, Mr. Kumar said the CBI expected to be in a position to dispose of under trial cases within two years starting 2010.

Of the 71 special courts, six will come up in West Bengal of which three will be functional in 2010. The State currently has just two special courts.

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