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CBI Autonomy

Topics covered:

Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

 

CBI Autonomy

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: CBI- Establishment, its functioning, issues related to its autonomy and need for consent in investigations.

 

Context: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has recommended a comprehensive legislation to make the Central Bureau of Investigation functional as an efficient and impartial investigative agency.

 

Problems associated with CBI:

  1. The agency is dependent on the home ministry for staffing, since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
  2. The agency depends on the law ministry for lawyers and also lacks functional autonomy to some extent.
  3. The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also susceptible to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers, because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
  4. Another great constraint on the CBI is its dependence on State governments for invoking its authority to investigate cases in a State, even when such investigation targets a Central government employee.
  5. Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This is a cumbersome procedure and has led to some ridiculous situations.

 

SC over CBI’s autonomy:

The landmark judgment in Vineet Narain v. Union of India in 1997 laid out several steps to secure the autonomy of CBI. Says Mr. Narain: “Limited autonomy was granted. Still the administrative and financial control wrests with the Ministry of Personnel, and thus the government can directly control CBI.”

 

Why was it called caged carrot by the Supreme Court?

  1. Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)has been a work in progress for years.
  2. Corruption and Politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
  3. CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
  4. Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by government was visible in the hope of better future postings.

 

What institutional reforms are needed?

  1. Ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  2. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
  3. Parliamentary standing committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality.
  4. The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  5. It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  6. Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit
  7. It is also possible to consider granting the CBI and other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys as he is only accountable to Parliament.
  8. A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.
  9. One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  10. more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.

 

About CBI:

  1. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India.
  2. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is headed by the Director.
  3. CBI, India’s first agency to investigate corruption, the Special Police Establishment, was set up in 1941, six years before independence from British rule to probe bribery and corruption in the country during World War II.
  4. In 1946, it was brought under the Home Department and its remit was expanded to investigate corruption in central and state governments under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
  5. The special police forcebecame the Central Bureau of Investigation after the Home Ministry, which is in charge of domestic security, decided to expand its powers and change its name in 1963.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: Examine the criticisms made against functioning of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and in the light of these criticisms, discuss how its director should conduct himself.