New Delhi: In the midst of a raging debate over probe into various high-profile cases including in the coal block allocation scam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked CBI to tread cautiously in policy matters as “decisions which appear sensible ex-ante may ex-post turn out to be faulty” and “errors of judgement are distinguished from criminal acts”.

Speaking at the international conference on “Evolving Common Strategies to Combat Corruption and Crime” organised by CBI on its Golden Jubilee function, he said decision-making in a world of uncertainty “is a highly risky operation”.

“While actions that prima facie show malafide intent or pecuniary gain should certainly be questioned, pronouncing decisions taken with no ill-intention within the prevailing policy as criminal misconduct would certainly be flawed and excessive,” the Prime Minister said.

Singh’s comment come in the backdrop of an FIR registered by CBI against former Coal Secretary P C Parakh accusing him of criminal misconduct for allegedly reversing his decision on the allocation of Talabira coal block to Hindalco.

“Policy-making is a multi-layered and complex process in the government, and will increasingly become more so, and therefore I don’t think it would be to appropriate for a police agency to sit in judgement over policy formulation, without any evidence of malafide,” he said.

The Prime Minister said lines of confidence must be clearly drawn between investigating agencies on the one hand and honest executive functionaries on the other so that public servants may not be paralysed in taking effective decisions based on their own sound judgement and on the apprehension of an ill-informed inquiry or investigation.

“It is also important that errors of judgement are distinguished from criminal acts.Our administrative set up has to be so managed that the fear of the unknown must not lead to paralysis in decision making,” he said.

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