Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to act without fear or favour and bring to book all those who are guilty, irrespective of their position or status.

Without naming recent scams like the Commonwealth Games and 2G spectrum allocation which are being probed by the agency, Dr. Singh said the CBI was investigating many high profile cases of corruption that have attracted a great deal of public attention.

“The handling of these cases constitutes a litmus test for you. What is expected of you is thorough investigation, fair action and quick results,'' the Prime Minister told top officials of the agency.

He was speaking after inaugurating the new, swanky multi-storeyed headquarters of the CBI here. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, and top government officials were present.

The Prime Minister also asked the CBI to ensure that its judgment always “remains rooted in hard evidence and is not influenced by extraneous factors.'' As our society is open and free, he said, there will be many views and opinions on all issues.

“The CBI has to be sensitive to these but it has always to do what is right and correct. For an investigating agency, there can be only one guiding beacon, only one gold standard and that is the law of the land. Whoever transgresses it, how ever mighty, has to be brought to book,'' Dr. Singh told the CBI brass. Interestingly, his observations come at a time when his party MP and former Commonwealth Games 2010 Organising Committee (OC) chief Suresh Kalmadi is lodged in CBI custody in the agency's old building which is also located in the same CGO complex.

At the same time, the Prime Minister cautioned the CBI against harassing those who act in good faith in the discharge of their duties. “There should be no vendetta, no witch-hunt and no harassment of the innocent. There should be no apprehension of punitive action for bonafide mistakes as we cannot afford an environment that breeds fear, inaction and indecision,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said that investigation was only one part of the process to bring the guilty to book, adding that trials have also to be conducted speedily. He asked Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy to pursue the matter with different State governments of making all 71 additional special CBI courts operational as only 16 of such special courts were working.

He assured the CBI officers that the government was committed to providing the CBI the manpower, the finances and the technology which the agency required. He added that the government also stood committed to giving the CBI the necessary independence and operational flexibility.

Earlier, CBI Director A.P. Singh pointed out that the agency had been facing several problems such as delay in according sanction for prosecution, non-execution of Letters Rogatory, delays in receiving forensic reports and large number of vacancies at all levels. Despite staff crunch, he said, the agency had an impressive conviction rate of 70 per cent.

Mr. Singh said the new CBI Act, which is in the stage of being drafted, would widen the scope of the Bureau's activities and sought the government's support in getting it approved.

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