This refers to the report “Banks need not fear probe agencies: FM” (December 29) that talks about Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman meeting the heads of the public sector banks or PSBs. She has performed yeoman service to the cause of promoting the health and efficiency of the banking system by assuring them in the presence of the director of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) that granting of loans or any other financial decision should not be influenced by the fear of being hounded by the CBI. A similar meeting with the Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence will also take place and that is good.
Concerns about undue harassment by the Central Vigilance Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) were also expressed (incidentally, CAG has no audit jurisdiction over banks). A frank discussion and the assurance by the PM earlier and the FM now will be of great value to the bureaucracy in the banking world. The FM has assured that “no action will be initiated if genuine commercial actions turned bad”.
My view is that while this assurance needs to be reiterated, there should be no presumption that CBI has been harassing bankers and bureaucrats for genuine mistakes. All these CBI cases relating to banks reported in the newspapers are not cases of genuine mistakes but of deliberate fraud. I have worked in the revenue department for more than three decades. My view about the efficacy of CBI should be more reliable than of one who has worked in the CBI itself. I am not talking of political cases but of cases in the revenue department and the banking department. There, I have not found any case of harassment by the CBI. These (CBI) cases take a long time to get decided which is not because of the CBI but due to court delays. Even failures cannot be attributable to the weakness of the basic charge-sheet made out by the CBI but largely to court decisions. I dare say that I have not found any honest and good officer in our department punished by the CBI.
My firm view is that the fear of the three “Cs” is highly exaggerated. Slothful and corrupt fellows use this imaginary fear for not taking decisions. But the FM’s assurance is useful and soothing.
Sukumar Mukhopadhyay Retired member, CBEC
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