Don't cast net too wide: Jaitley on CBI's handling of ICICI Bank case

Union Minister Arun Jaitley. File photo
Union minister Arun Jaitley on Friday questioned the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI’s) approach to the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case, and said that including too many bankers in the first information report (FIR) could hurt the interests of the banking industry. He said there should be a fundamental difference between “investigative adventurism” and “professional investigation”. “If we include the entire who’s who of the banking industry — with or without evidence — what cause are we serving or actually hurting,” Jaitley said in a blog on Facebook on Friday night.  


“Sitting thousands of kilometres away, when I read the list of potential targets in the ICICI case, the thought that crossed my mind was, instead of focusing primarily on the target, is a journey to nowhere (or everywhere) being undertaken?” said Jaitley, who is undergoing medical treatment in the US. 


On Thursday, the CBI named former ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon group’s promoter Venugopal Dhoot as accused in the case.


“One of the reasons why our conviction rates are poor is that adventurism and megalomania overtakes our investigators and professionalism takes a back seat,” said Jaitley.


The finance minister warned that casting the net too wide and including people who might not have a common intention to commit an offence amounted to relying on presumptions with no legally admissible evidence.


“Such sort of an adventurism leads to media leaks, ruins reputations and eventually invites strong criticism but no convictions. My advice to our investigators – Follow the advice of Arjun in the Mahabharat – Just concentrate on the bull’s eye,” he said.

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