NATIONAL

CBI has exceeded brief, says Cong.

NEW DELHI OCT. 10. The Congress once again spoke in defence of the Bahujan Samaj Party president, Mayawati, and charged that the Central Bureau of Investigation had gone "much beyond the brief'' given by the Supreme Court in the Taj Corridor case.

The defence of Ms. Mayawati came in the form of a clarification to a statement made by the AICC general secretary, Nawal Kishore Sharma, on Thursday, who was quoted to have justified the CBI raids on Ms. Mayawati. Responding to questions pointing to the variance in stand, the party spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said that Mr. Sharma had clarified that he had justified the searches to the extent that it was in pursuance of the apex court's directions.

Then, Mr. Reddy carried the defence further, finding fault with the CBI for having conducted raids on the premises of distant relatives and friends of Ms. Mayawati.

He also contended that the agency did not have the mandate to pursue a probe not connected with the Taj Corridor case. The then Uttar Pradesh Government had incurred expenditure not exceeding Rs. 27 crores against which bills amounting to Rs. 17 crores were raised, he added.

"The CBI is an instrument of the Government of India and has no authority to investigate allegations pertaining to the State (without its permission)," Mr. Reddy said, adding that the party's "impression was that the indiscriminate manner of raids was not entirely in keeping with the Supreme Court order."