CBI remained in news in 2016 for some of the big arrests it made — of ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi, Arvind Kejriwal’s then Principal Secretary and judge Rachna Lakhanpal — though it also had to do some firefighting over the apprehension of a senior bureaucrat who along with his family members committed suicide later alleging torture by it.
2016 was also supposed to be a year of leadership change but it did not happen with speculation doing the rounds that the government wanted to avoid selection of CBI chief during the tenure of Chief Justice T S Thakur, whose term came to an end today.
The federal agency hogged media headlines with the surprise arrest of S P Tyagi in the AgustaWestland helicopter purchase scam.
The probe which was going on for last three years gathered steam with Rakesh Asthana, who was heading the Special Investigation Team probing the case, given additional charge of CBI director after incumbent Anil Sinha hung his boots on 3 December.
It was the first-ever arrest of a former chief of IAF by CBI. Tyagi was given bail by the special court with some tough questions for the agency to ponder over.
Another major arrest was that of IAS officer Rajendra Kumar, principal secretary to the Delhi chief minister, in connection with allegations of graft against him.
The high-profile arrest in the national capital triggered a slugfest between BJP and AAP with the latter accusing the Centre of targeting its government because of huge support the party was garnering in Punjab and Goa.
BJP retorted saying Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia were “allowing corruption to take place under their nose”. In a surprise, Congress too joined BJP in attacking AAP accusing it of indulging in corruption.
In a rare action against a sitting judge, CBI also arrested Lakhanpal, a civil judge in Tis Hazari court here, accusing her of allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 20 lakh in a case adjudicated by her.
It was alleged that Rs five lakh was paid to her husband, who is a practicing advocate here, as one of the installments for the alleged bribe.
The agency failed to arrest former liquor baron Vijay Mallya as he escaped to London taking advantage of change in lookout circular against him by it.
CBI continued to act in corruption cases against officials with over 500 of them at various levels booked by the agency.
It filed charge sheets in 124 cases till 31 October, as per latest data.
However, the arrest of B K Bansal, former Director General in Corporate Affairs, in a corruption case brought a public relations crisis for the agency as the official and his family members — wife, daughter and son — committed suicide accusing CBI officials of torturing them.
Bansal, who was arrested for allegedly receiving bribe from Mumbai-based Elder Pharma for favouring it in an inquiry, in his suicide letter accused CBI DIG Sanjeev Gautam of torturing him and his wife and daughter which forced them to take the extreme action.
The letter, which carried the name of a top BJP functionary, sent the agency into a tizzy with inquiry being set in the episode and the officer asked to recuse from the probe of the case. National Human Rights Commission also took note of the case and asked CBI to explain the conduct of the officials as alleged.
CBI filed some important charge sheets during the year including one against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his family members in a case of disproportionate assets against them.
The agency alleged that Singh and his family members amassed Rs 10 crore of ill-gotten assets during his stint as Union minister.
It also filed a charge sheet against former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the illegal telephone exchange case.
The CBI alleged that during June 2004 to December 2006, about 364 telephone numbers/lines were installed at Maran’s residence at Gopalapuram, Chennai causing a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to the exchequer.
The agency also filed charge sheet against Rajendra Kumar.
The 1989-batch IAS officer was charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under Indian Penal Code besides provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act along with eight others and Endeavour Systems private Limited.