The tragedy after the tragedy

Knapps

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28, Sep 2016

Ex-Director General Corporate Affairs B K Bansal, who was accused of corruption, and his son committed suicide on September 26, two months after Bansal's wife and daughter committed suicide. In their suicide notes, while the wife and daughter stated “humiliation” by the CBI raid as the reason, Bansal and his son have blamed senior CBI officials of causing “mental torture”. There is a lot to learn from this tragedy.

What is the tragic news?

Former senior bureaucrat Bal Kishan Bansal, who was arrested under corruption charges, reportedly committed suicide along with his 25-year-old son Yogesh on the night of September 26.

  • The ex-director general of corporate affairs and his son were found dead in their east Delhi apartment, nearly two months after Bansal's wife Satyabala, 58, and daughter Neha, 27 had committed suicide following a CBI raid in their house.
  • According to police, the incident came to light on Tuesday morning when the domestic help discovered the dead bodies and then made a call to the Police Control Room.
  • Suicide notes and copies of them were all over the apartment, say the police. Family photos were attached to every note to emphasize the end of the family that once was. They reportedly alleged “harassment and mental torture by senior CBI officials” in two separate suicide notes.

Why is this unfortunate?

The case registered by CBI and the subsequent arresting of BK Bansal has wiped out the entire family.

  • Bansal got to know about the suicides of his wife and daughter when he was produced in court on completion of police custody, said sources present at the court. Bansal was visibly shaken and had to be calmed down, they said. At the time, the court had even asked for refreshments and medical aid for Bansal on humanitarian grounds, said sources.
  • While granting bail to Bansal in July to attend the last rites of his wife and daughter, special judge Gurdeep Singh had said:“These are not conventional crimes like murder or rape. Earlier, the CBI used to not arrest accused in such cases. The evidences are mostly documentary in nature and the accused are public servants. The agency needs to rethink whether it is necessary to arrest in such cases”.
  • Granted bail for their funerals, Mr Bansal sounded stoic when he told neighbours:"Life must go on." Clearly he had not moved on, nor had his son recovered from the loss of his mother and sister.

On August 30, 2016, a special CBI court granted bail to BK Bansal in the corruption case, taking note of the “unfortunate” events that took place in his family.

  • Speaking on his son’s depression, Bansal had told the judge, “My son is sitting like a statue. I fear he too will do what his mother and sister did.” At that time, there was little indication that BK Bansal too was considering joining the rest of his family in the after-life.

Considering the emotional trauma faced by BK Bansal and the suicidal tendencies of his son due to the arrest itself and further, the suicide of their family members, care should have been taken that they were provided with some psychological help and not left to fend for themselves after Bansal was released on bail.

At least, their lives could have been saved if precautions had been taken. Instead, as accused by the deceased, the CBI only made life harder for them since his release.

When was BK Bansal apprehended?

Bansal, an additional secretary-rank officer in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, was arrested by the CBI on July 16 for allegedly accepting bribe from a prominent pharmaceutical company.

  • Bansal belonged to the Indian Corporate Law Services and was promoted to the post of director general of corporate affairs last year.
  • Just three days after he was arrested, his wife and daughter committed suicide, leaving behind two purported suicide notes that said they felt “humiliated” by CBI raids. They, however, added that ‘nobody’ was responsible for their death.

Bansal was granted interim bail by a special CBI court from July 20, 2016 to August 21, 2016, to attend the last rites of his wife Satyabala, and daughter Neha.

After expiry of his interim bail, Bansal was given regular bail on August 30, 2016. Thereafter, he returned to an empty home with his son, and the CBI still haunting him with their investigation.

Where were the alleged mistakes made by Bansal?

A case was registered under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on allegations that he was attempting to obstruct a probe against a Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Elder Pharmaceuticals owned by TV actor Anuj Saxena. The CBI had also allegedly caught him accepting a bribe of Rs 9 lakhs.

  • He had allegedly demanded a bribe for not recommending a probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office into allegations that it had duped 24,000 investors of Rs 176 crores.
  • Bansal is said to have asked for Rs 50 lakhs but the amount was later scaled down to Rs 20 lakhs following negotiations. CBI had claimed Bansal had already got Rs 11 lakhs as first installment.

The CBI after carrying out searches at eight locations in connection with the case reportedly found Rs 60 lakhs in cash, 20 property papers, and details of 60 bank accounts.

On the face of it, this seemed like yet another of the many cases we hear of the bureaucrats being involved in bribery.

What happened thereafter should happen to no person, corrupt or saint.

Note:"Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and casts scars forever. Lawmakers know it, so also the police," the Supreme Court had said in a 2014 ruling taking note of the increased number of arrests without investigation.

Who has been blamed by Mr. Bansal and his son?

The two suicide notes, a five-page one written by Bal Kishan Bansal and a two-page note by his son Yogesh, found in their flat allegedly accused officers of CBI of “harassing” them, said the police.

  • We have initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of CrPC… no case has been registered so far. We have recovered a five-page suicide note written by B K Bansal… his son had written a two-page suicide note. After recovering them from the spot, we have sent copies of the notes to the CBI, asking them to conduct an inquiry into this matter as the victims have leveled allegations against some senior officers of the agency,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (east district) Rishi Pal.
  • In essence, the CBI will investigate into the allegations made by the Bansal family against the CBI.

According to police sources, Bansal had been called for questioning by the CBI in connection with a graft case Monday. “He had been asked to appear, along with his son, Tuesday morning,” they added.

CBI sources, however, said Bansal did visit the agency headquarters on Monday to furnish some document but he was neither summoned formally nor called informally to visit.

  • Further, CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said Bansal’s son Yogesh was neither an accused nor was he summoned by the CBI in the ongoing bribery investigation.
  • "We are deeply saddened to know the unfortunate demise of B K Bansal and his son today. The matter is being looked into by the local police…. The case is under investigation. Further, the son of B K Bansal was neither an accused nor was he summoned by the CBI in the ongoing bribery investigation.* "CBI Spokesperson R K Gaur said.

Bansal’s relatives and neighbours demanded CBI officials be tried for abetting suicide.

Note: As per section 306 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, if any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide can be punished with imprisonment for 10 years and fine. However, the case of abetment will be difficult to prove in this case, because the CBI officials will be shielded under the argument of doing their duty.The Supreme Court too maintains that there should be ‘a positive action’ that led to the suicide.

How can this offer everyone a valuable lesson?

To the public servants

Most officers involved in corruption do not think of the consequences of their acts. It is indeed taken as a way of life because ‘everyone does it’. The greed of short-term monetary gain overpowers the fear of them getting caught and the subsequent repercussions they and (more importantly) their family could face.

  • Corruption has three main components that are controllable and one that is not. The three controllable ones are opportunity, incentive and risk: the uncontrollable one is personal integrity. Corruption is, thus, an important manifestation of the failure of ethics.
  • There are elaborate rules and regulations in India – however inefficient they may be - to control the controllable components of corruption, however little is done to promote personal ethics building. (The link to a research paper on the subject can be found in the references section.)
  • As Dawn Oliver observes:“Self-regulation can be a more effective device for controlling activity than externally imposed regulations.”

Thus, there is a need for India to train its public servants to conduct themselves ethically through self-regulation.Not just for the sake of their responsibility to service the public honestly, but also for the sake of their own family (as is evident from the case of BK Bansal and the unfortunate end of his family).

To the investigating officers

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is pending with the Supreme Court seeking the framing of guidelines to safeguard rights of common public against alleged misuse of investigating powers during search and seizure.

  • The plea filed by scribe Upendra Rai, contended that probe agencies were allegedly "harassing and humiliating citizens while conducting searches at their residential premises" and the procedures need to be regulated.In Bansal’s case, his wife and daughter felt humiliated during the high-handed humiliating search that the CBI carried out in their house.
  • The plea cites examples of recent searches conducted at the residences of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Director General of Corporate Affairs B K Bansal, whose wife and daughter allegedly committed suicide (it was filed before BK Bansal’ and his son’s death).

To those who aspire to be civil servants

Your reason for such an aspiration should be greater than the power, prestige and (quite often) the material well-bring that come along with the profession.

  • The Civil Services (Mains) Examination has a written paper on Ethics and Integrity.What you write there is what you should be and what you should do after selection. Doing anything less will let the profession, the country, and your family down.

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Tags | Accused of corruption Bal Kishan Bansal BK Bansal CBI CBI causing mental torture CBI torture harrasment and mental charges humiliation by the CBI tragedy wiped out the entire family