The CBI owes its origin to the Delhi Special Police Establishment, established in 1941, to enquire into cases of corruption in the procurement during the Second World War.
Later, based on the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption, CBI was established by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Later, it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.
It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration. It works under the overall superintendence of Central Vigilance Commission in matters related to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Composition of CBI
The CBI is headed by a Director. He is assisted by a Special Director or an Additional Director. Additionally, it has a number of joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police and all other usual ranks of police personnel.
The Director of CBI as Inspector-General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization. With the enactment of CVC Act, 2003, the superintendence of Delhi Special Police Establishment vests with the Central Government save investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in which, the superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
The Director of CBI has been provided security of two-year tenure in office by the CVC Act, 2003 (Vineet Narain Case). The CVC Act also provides the mechanism for the selection of the Director of CBI and other officers of the rank of SP and above in the CBI.
The Director of the CBI is appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Central Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson, the Vigilance Commissioners, the Secretary to the Government of India in-charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Secretary (Coordination and Public Grievances) in the Cabinet Secretariat.
Organization of CBI
At present (2013), the CBI has the following divisions:
- Anti-Corruption Division
- Economic Offences Division
- Special Crimes Division
- Policy and International Police Cooperation Division
- Administration Division
- Directorate of Prosecution
- Central Forensic Science Laboratory
Functions of CBI
- Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees
- Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws, that is, breach of laws concerning export and import control, customs and central excise, income tax, foreign exchange regulations and so on. However, such cases are taken up either in consultation with or at the request of the department concerned.
- Investigating serious crimes, having national and international ramifications, committed by organized gangs of professional criminals.
- Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces.
- Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.
- Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
The CBI is a multidisciplinary investigation agency of the Government of India and undertakes investigation of corruption-related cases, economic offences and cases of conventional crime.
It normally confines its activities in the anti-corruption field to offences committed by the employees of the Central Government and Union Territories and their public sector undertakings.
It takes up investigation of conventional crimes like murder, kidnapping, rape etc., on reference from the state governments or when directed by the Supreme Court/High Courts.
The CBI acts as the “National Central Bureau” of Interpol in India. The Interpol Wing of the CBI coordinates requests for investigation-related activities originating from Indian law enforcement agencies and the member countries of the Interpol.
CBI as ‘Caged Parrot’ and steps to make it free
The SC raised questions on the CBI’s independence while hearing the Coalgate scam case, called it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”. The SC had then asked the Centre to make the CBI impartial and said it needs to be ensured that the CBI functions free of all external pressures.
In response to this, the Centre filed an affidavit stating following measures it will adopt to ensure the autonomy of the CBI:
- CBI director will be appointed by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of the Opposition. The CBI director cannot be appointed or removed without the consent of this collegium.
- The CBI director can be removed on the grounds of misbehavior only by an order from the President after an inquiry.
- There will be an accountability commission headed by three retired Supreme Court or High Court judges. The committee will look into cases of grievances against the CBI.
- The affidavit said that CVC will have the power of superintendence and administration over the CBI for all cases to be probed under the Prevention of Corruption Act but such power would vest in the Centre for rest of the cases.
- A Bill would be introduced in Parliament to ensure financial autonomy to the agency.
- Sanction for probe: Centre shall take a decision on a request to sanction for probe against officers of the level of Jt. Secretary and above within a period of three months and give reasons if sanction is denied.