From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CBI
Mains level : Issues over CBI
The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the CBI was an “autonomous body” and it had no “control” over the investigative agency.
- The submission in the top court comes two days after the promulgation of an ordinance extending the tenures of the CBI Director and the Enforcement Directorate chief.
- Attorney-General K was objecting to a suit filed by the West Bengal Government over the use of CBI.
West Bengal vs. CBI
- West Bengal has challenged the CBI’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the State in some cases.
- The State had withdrawn its “general consent” to the CBI way back in 2018.
- The Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Delhi Special Police Establishment, a Central Government Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
- It then aimed to investigate bribery and corruption in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India.
- It then had its headquarters in Lahore.
- After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate bribery and corruption by central-government employees.
- The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated in 1963.
Mandate of the CBI
- The CBI is the main investigating agency of the GoI.
- It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
- Its important role is to prevent corruption and maintain integrity in administration.
- It works under the supervision of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) in matters pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- The CBI is also India’s official representative with the INTERPOL.
Cases to investigate
- Cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws
- Crimes of a serious nature that have national and international ramifications
- Coordination with the activities of the various state police forces and anti-corruption agencies.
- It can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it
- Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
Issues with CBI
- Caged parrot: The Supreme Court has criticised the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”.
- Political interference: 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.
- Investigation delay: It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations due to political inertia.
- Loss of Credibility: CBI has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal, Bhopal gas tragedy.
- Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.
- Acute shortage of personnel: A major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce.
- Limited Powers: The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of investigation by CBI.
- Restricted Access: Prior approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation on the employees of the Central Government is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.
- Need for autonomy: As long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigating agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely.
- A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision.
- Selection of director/ Officers: 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 and induction of officers on deputation.
- Lokpal scrutiny: The Lokpal Act already calls for a three-member committee made up of the PM, the leader of the opposition and the CJI to select the director.
- Bifurcation of Cadre: CBI should be bifurcated into an Anti-Corruption Body and a National Crime Bureau.
- Develop own cadre: One of the demands that have been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers.
- Annual social audit should be carried out by ten reputed, knowledgeable persons with background of law, justice, public affairs and administration and the audit report should be placed before the parliament.