General Studies IIJudiciary

Chief Justice of India on Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)


Recently, Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has come under deep public scrutiny. Its actions and inactions have raised questions regarding its credibility.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • It is the main investigation agency of the central government for cases relating to corruption and major criminal probes.
  • It has its origin in the Special Police Establishment set up in 1941 to probe bribery and corruption during World War II.
  • CBI was set up by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1963 after the Santhanam committee recommendation.
  • The superintendence of CBI rests with CVC in corruption cases and with the Department of personnel and training in other matters.
  • Presently it acts as an attached office under DOPT.
  • Although DSPE Act gives legal power to CBI, CBI is not a statutory body as:
    • Word ‘CBI’ is not mentioned in the DSPE act.
  • Indian agency to coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.

Issues involved

  • Lack of Administrative autonomy: Currently, vacancies in CBI have to be plugged through State or other Central forces on deputation. Thus, it is susceptible to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers, as their future postings are dependent on it.
  • Lack of Financial Independency: Currently the CBI is not financially independent as administrative and financial control wrests with the Ministry of Personnel.
  • Delay in case handling: As of now, CBI faces enormous delays in concluding the investigation due to a lack of manpower and resources.
  • Deficient the workforce: It lacks an adequately qualified and competent workforce.
  • Prior permission of states: The conduct or continuance of investigation into offences committed with the territory of a state, consent of the state is required which most of the time is delayed or even denied.
  • Political Interference: The Supreme Court of India has criticised the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”, due to excessive political interference in its functioning.
    • It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
  • Other issues: CBI powers are misused for vested gains leading to poor transparency and accountability of the agency to the people at large.

How Law Enforcement Can be Improved?

  • Creation of Independent Umbrella Institution: CJI proposed to bring various central agencies like the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office under one roof.
    • This organisation should be headed by an independent and impartial authority, appointed by a committee akin to the one which appointed the CBI Director.
    • The CJI said one additional in-built safeguard is to have separate and autonomous wings for prosecution and investigation, to ensure total independence.
    • A reasonable check and balance would be a provision in the proposed law for annual audit of the institution’s performance by the appointing committee.
  • Harmonious Relationship between the States and Centre: With the police and public order under the State list, and the burden of investigation is primarily on the State police.
    • The State agencies must be equipped to deal with increasing challenges in the field of investigation.
    • The proposed Central law for the umbrella investigative body, can be suitably replicated by the States.
  • Bringing Gender Parity: There was a need for adequate representation of women in the criminal justice system.
  • Bringing Social Legitimacy: The need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust and the first step to gain the same is to break the nexus with the political executive.
  • Criminal Justice System Reforms: There is need to implement long overdue Police Reforms and dealing with huge pendency of cases.

Controversy & Criticism of Central Bureau of Investigation

  • In 2013, Judge of the Supreme Court of India (and later Chief Justice of India)  M. Lodha criticized the CBI for being a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”, due to its excessive political interference irrespective of which party happened to be in power.
  • It has also been criticized for dragging its feet investigating prominent politicians.
  • In January 2006 it was discovered that the CBI had quietly unfrozen bank accounts belonging to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, one of those accused in the 1986 Bofors
  • A 1991 arrest of militants in Kashmir led to a raid on hawala brokers, revealing evidence of large-scale payments to national politicians.
  • Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case
  • Sister Abhaya
  • Sohrabuddin case
  • Sant Singh Chatwal case
  • Malankara Varghese murder case
  • Bhopal gas tragedy
  • 2G spectrum case
  • Indian coal allocation scam
  • 2008 Noida double murder case

Source: The Hindu

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