CBI and the Needed Reforms

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  1. CBI, India’s first agency to investigate corruption, the Special Police Establishment, was set up in 1941, six years before independence from British rule to probe bribery and corruption in the country during World War II.
  2. In 1946, it was brought under the Home Department and its remit was expanded to investigate corruption in central and state governments under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
  3. The special police force became the Central Bureau of Investigation after the Home Ministry, which is in charge of domestic security, decided to expand its powers and change its name in 1963.

CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Now, it comes under administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel.

The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962-1964).

The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.

Motto: Industry, Impartiality and Integrity

At present (2016), the CBI has the following divisions:

1. Anti-Corruption Division

2. Economic Offences Division

3. Special Crimes Division

4. Policy and International Police Cooperation Division

5. Administration Division

6. Directorate of Prosecution

7. Central Forensic Science Laboratory

It is headed by Director- appointed by Central Government on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of

  • the Prime Minister as Chairperson,
  • the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and
  • the Chief Justice of India or Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.

What institutional reforms are needed?

  1. Ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  2. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
  3. Parliamentary standing committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality.
  4. The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  5. It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  6. Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit
  7. It is also possible to consider granting the CBI and other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys as he is only accountable to Parliament.
  8. A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.
  9. One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  10. more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.

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