Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Ranjit Sinha passed away in Delhi on Friday morning at the age of 68 due to Covid-19-related complications, people close to him said.
Sinha tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday evening and passed away on Friday around 4.30am. “He showed no serious symptoms ,” said a close friend. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
Sinha, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1974 batch, headed the premier anti-corruption agency from 2012 till 2014, but his two-year term was marked with controversy over his official residence’s visitors’ diary, according to which he allegedly met with suspects in the 2G and coal scam cases frequently.
After details of the visitors’ diary came to light the Supreme Court asked him to recuse himself and appointed then additional director RK Dutta as in-charge of the investigation of the 2G scam case till Sinha retired.
It was during his tenure that CBI earned the sobriquet of “caged parrot” from Supreme Court, which also came down heavily on “political masters” for interfering with the coal scam probe. In April 2017, CBI filed a case against him in under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly scuttling and influencing the probe in the coal scam case. The case is yet to be concluded.
Prior to joining CBI, he also served as the Director General of Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF).
Serving and retired CBI officers remember him as an officer who didn’t believe much in hierarchy,was very approachable, and preferred that fellow officers speak their mind.
Anil Sinha, who worked with Ranjit Sinha for one and a half years and later succeeded him as CBI chief in December 2014, told– “It’s a sad end…He was a very affable person. Even when the whole world was going against him, he never lost his cool. He would say ‘why I am being targeted?’”
“Only thing which often got him into trouble was the controversial statements he gave,” Anil Sinha said.
“In his farewell speech on December 2, 2014 also, he made everyone laugh by saying – ‘I had forgotten that I have done some work also. In fact I have only seen criticism in last few weeks in media… that I forgot that I have done other work as well in the 40 years of my career’.”
“Nobody wants to leave the organisation on such a controversial note,” remarked Ranjit Sinha that day, adding “…but time will tell that I took decisions in the interest of the organisation”.
Javeed Ahmad, who was CBI’s joint director (policy) between 2012 and 2014, remembers him as a strong-headed person. “He didn’t shoot from others’ shoulders. He wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything for him. He would go ahead and do it himself.”