CBI Should’ve Statutory Status Like CAG: CJI

To ensure “administrative autonomy” for the Central Bureau of Investigation and for its investigations to remain unaffected by any political interference, the premier agency should be given “statutory status through a legislation equivalent to that provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General”, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has said.

This is to ensure that the CBI is “delinked” from the “overall administrative control” of the government, he said, while delivering the keynote address at the 18th edition of the DP Kohli Memorial lecture, which was attended by the Air Chief Marshal, Chief of Army Staff, Supreme Court and High Court judges, current and former directors of the CBI, among many other personalities.

Although the CBI has managed to carve out a special place for itself, Gogoi said it “has not been able to meet the standards of judicial scrutiny in a number of high-profile and politically sensitive cases”. “Equally true it is that such lapses may not have happened infrequently. Such instances reflect systemic issues and indicate a deep mismatch between institutional aspirations, organisational design, working culture, and governing politics”.

To address increasing incidence of interstate crimes, the CJI said, “An argument could be made for including ‘public order’ in the concurrent list, for the limited purposes of investigating such crimes”.

Citing “political and administrative interference” as a key concern, the CJI said, “Why is that whenever there are no political overtones to the case, the CBI does a good job. A reverse situation led to the celebrated case of Vineet Narain vs UOI, wherein the SC expressing concern at the state of affairs, laid down explicit guidelines for protecting the integrity of the force”.

Quoting the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946, Gogoi said the “possibility of it being used as a political instrument remains ever present”.

Justice Gogoi said “lack of adequately qualified and competent workforce” was another concern with 15% posts in the executive rank, 28.37% in the law officer rank and 56.17% in the technical officer rank lying vacant.

Gogoi further said that the recent “operationalisation of the Lokpal, is indeed promising” and that the current “challenge is to ascertain how to make the CBI functional as an efficient and impartial investigative agency fully motivated and guided by the objectives of service to the public at large, upholding the constitutional rights and liberty of the people, and capable of performing in an increasingly complex time”.

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