Central Bureau of Investigation
“There is an urgent need to reform the Central Bureau of Investigation to ensure it as a robust, independent and credible investigation agency”. Discuss.
● The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was instituted in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
● Later, it was relocated to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
● The CBI is the main investigating group of the Central Government. It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration. It also offers assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
● The CBI cannot investigate in a state unless the matter is referred to it by a high court or the Supreme Court or by the consent of the state government concerned. Even the central government employees posted in states are not within its jurisdiction as per anti-corruption and other laws.
● The organization is dependent on the home ministry for staffingsince many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
● The CBI which is run by IPS officers on deputation is also liable to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
● Since the policy is a State issue under the Constitution and the CBI performs 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.
● Supreme Court in Hawala case said that the CBI “is a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”, due to its excessive political interference irrespective of which party happened to be in power at the time.
Suggestion to reform CBI:
The past experiences and the present turmoil in the agency call for immediate and expedient reforms which are the need of the hour. Some suggestible reforms could be:
● The first reform is to ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
● The 19th report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (2007) recommended that a separate Act should be promulgated for the CBI “in tune with the requirements of the time to ensure credibility and impartiality”.
● In 1978, the L P Singh committee also recommended the enactment of a “comprehensive central legislation to remove the deficiency of not having a central investigative agency with a self-sufficient statutory charter of duties and functions”. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) also suggested the same..
● In line with international best practices, the CBI should develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
● The CBI should be given, the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys—he is only accountable to Parliament. A more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability.
To ensure that the CBI is a robust, independent and credible investigation agency, there is an urgent need to work out a much more transparent mechanism for selection of the Director and induction of officers on deputation. The tenure of the Director needs to be enhanced, terms of officers need to be made sacrosanct and the CBI is given reasonable financial and administrative autonomy if it has to live up to its motto of ‘Industry, Impartiality and Integrity.