From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : General conent
Mains level : Paper 2- Reforms in CBI
The Central government’s decision to give a five-year tenure to heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has drawn a lot of flak.
- Apex court’s directive giving a mandatory two-year tenure to the Director of the CBI was a fallout of the Hawala scandal.
- Prior to that, the government was arbitrary and capricious in choosing the Director.
- It was not rare to see temporary appointments given to favour some individuals.
- Seniority was often ignored in appointments and Directors were removed frequently.
Why tenure matters
- Short tenure: A two-year tenure for a CBI head is too short for any officer to make an impact on the organisation.
- Longer provides the much-needed continuity that a Director needs in an outfit charged with the task of conducting highly sensitive investigations, which sometimes impinge on the longevity and stability of a democratically elected government.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation chief in the U.S. gets a 10-year term.
- Need to avoid government interference: Any blatantly dishonest interference in the working of the organisation is bound to raise the hackles of those who believe in and carry out straightforward investigations.
- The government will therefore have to show enormous restraint in its interactions with the head of the CBI.
- Balancing accountability with autonomy: Of course, as a measure of accountability, the Director will have to keep the government informed of all major administrative decisions.
- He or she should inform the executive but not take orders from it.
- Need for CBI Act: Successive chiefs have suggested the drafting of a CBI Act to ensure that the organisation is not dependent on the State governments, many of which have withdrawn consent for the CBI to function in that State.
- Eight States — West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram — have withdrawn the general consent.
- The CBI should be made to derive its authority for launching investigations from its own statute instead of depending on the Criminal Procedure Code, which makes the CBI a police organisation.
Issue with ordinance
- The only problem with the latest ordinance is that, at the end of the mandatory two-year tenure, the government will have to issue orders granting one-year extensions at a time.
- The rule about three annual extensions can be misused by a tendentious government.
- It may be construed as a reward for ‘good behaviour’, which is a euphemism for an obliging Director.
Consider the question “What are the challenges facing Central Bureau of Investigation? Suggest the measures to make the organisation more effective.”
We will have to wait for a few years to gauge the impact of the change in tenure rules. It is preposterous to probe the intentions of this major move.
Back2Basics: General Consent
- A “general consent” is normally given by states to help the CBI in seamless investigation of cases of corruption against central government employees in their states.
- Almost all states have traditionally given such consent, in the absence of which the CBI would have to apply to the state government in every case, and before taking even small actions.
- Section 6 of The DSPE Act (“Consent of State Government to exercise of powers and jurisdiction”) says: “Nothing contained in section 5 (“Extension of powers and jurisdiction of special police establishment to other areas”) shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union territory or railway area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”