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CBI getting limited mandate in probe

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, June 17 � Though the people of Assam are expecting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to go into the root of corruption in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council, the Bureau has been given only a limited mandate and it will be difficult for the agency to unearth all the financial irregularities that took place in the Council over the years.

According to information available with The Assam Tribune, the State Government did not entrust the CBI with the responsibility of investigating into all the financial irregularities that took place in the Council and there is very limited scope for the Bureau to find out all the irregular dealings and misuse of public funds. The scope of the CBI�s probe is limited only to the cases handed over to the Bureau and under the circumstances, it is unlikely that the Central agency would be able to unearth all the financial irregularities.

Highly placed official sources in Dispur admitted that while handing over the cases to the CBI, the State Government only handed over five specific cases relating to financial irregularities in five departments on the basis of the report of the National Investigating Agency (NIA), while, the Assam Police is investigating into one case.

Sources admitted that it would have been better if the CBI was given the task of investigating into all the financial irregularities that took place in the Autonomous Council as under such circumstances, the Bureau would have been able to scan the relevant documents and decide on the cases to be registered. But in this particular case, it was the other way round and only a few specific cases were handed over to the CBI and the officials investigating into the cases do not have the mandate to examine the papers and irregular financial dealings, which are not related to those particular cases.

Sources revealed that during the course of investigation of a case of use of Council funds for procurement of weapons by the militants belonging to the DHD(J), the NIA came across a few isolated incidents of irregular financial dealings in six departments of the Council and as investigating into such dealings was not under the purview of the NIA, it recommended a probe by the CBI.

But instead of asking the CBI to probe into the financial dealings of the departments concerned, the State Government only handed over the cases relating to the irregular dealings identified by the NIA in five departments and the case of irregular dealing in the DRDA is being investigated by the Assam Police.

The CBI registered the FIRs relating only to the five cases handed over to it and started the process of scanning the documents relating to those particular dealings. Sources pointed out that as it was not the mandate of the NIA to examine the financial irregularities in the Council, it concentrated only on the issue of politician-militant nexus and during the process of investigation it came across only a few instances of financial irregularities and the Agency was not expected to closely examine all the dealings.

The CBI has achieved a major breakthrough as it managed to recover an amount of Rs 13.45 crore from the residence of a relative of RH Khan, one of the accused in the case, but the Bureau does not have the mandate to examine the documents relating to the irregular financial transactions, which are not linked to the cases handed over to it.

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