Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

SEP 3

Mains   > Polity   >   Institutions/Bodies   >   Criminal justice system

IN NEWS:

  • The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently observed that the CBI should be made an independent statutory body.

CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION:

  • CBI is the premier investigation agency in the country.
  • It is responsible for investigating corruption cases, economic offences and important conventional crimes such as murders, kidnapping and terrorist crimes.
  • The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962-1964).
  • The CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. It is not a statutory body.

HISTORY:

  • The CBI traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE), set up in 1941 to investigate cases of bribery and corruption during World War II.
  • Even after the War, the need for an agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees was felt. So, the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was brought into force in 1946.
  • Initially it dealt with cases related only to corruption by Central Govt. servants. In due course, the employees of public sector undertakings and public sector banks were also brought under CBI purview.

FUNCTIONS OF CBI:

  • Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees.
  • Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
  • Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws. 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 organised gangs of professional criminals.
  • Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.

STRUCTURE:

  • Ministry of Personnel is responsible for the overall supervision and attending to the administrative matters of the CBI.
  • As on date, CBI has the following Divisions:
    • Anti-Corruption Division
    • Economic Offences Division
    • Special Crimes Division
    • Directorate of Prosecution
    • Administration Division
    • Policy & Coordination Division
    • Central Forensic Science Laboratory
  • The CBI has also set up a Cyber Crime Investigation and Research Cell which, besides doing research in this field.
  • The CBI is designated as the National Central Bureau of India for INTERPOL.

COMPOSITION:

  • The CBI is headed by a director. He is provided security of two-year tenure in office by the CVC Act, 2003.
  • Appointment:
    • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) amended the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act with respect to appointment of the Director of CBI.
    • Now, the Central Government shall appoint the Director based 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 (SC) nominated by him.
    • Following a 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court, no officer with less than six months' tenure remaining can be considered for the post of chief.
  • The director is assisted by a special director or an additional director. Additionally, CBI has a number of joint directors, superintendents of police and all other usual ranks of police personnel.

ISSUES SURROUNDING CBI:

  • Political interference:
    • CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power. In 2013, a bench of the Supreme Court criticised the CBI, saying that the agency had become a “caged parrot” speaking in the voice of its political masters.
  • Dependence on government:
    • The agency is dependent on the Home ministry for staffing and on the Law ministry for lawyers. Budgetary provision for the expenses of the CBI is made in the budget of the Ministry of Personnel. Hence, CBI lacks functional and financial independence.
  • Limited powers:
    • CBI needs the consent of the State government before it can make its presence in that State, even when the investigation targets a Central government employee. In recent times, this has been a critical issue in states such as West Bengal and Kerala.
  • Vacancies:
    • The expansion of CBI’s mandate has not been accompanied by expansion and augmentation of the infrastructure and human resources within CBI. Large number of vacancies has resulted in severe strain on the existing manpower, affecting professional excellence and efficiency.
  • Deputationist nature of the organisation:
    • Besides direct recruitment, officers in CBI are recruited on deputation from IPS and state police forces. However, such officials often lack the specialization needed in CBI. Also, deputation adversely affects the promotion prospects of direct CBI officers, affecting their morale.
  • Delays in investigation:
    • Because of the rising complexity of crimes, shortage of human resources, procedural delays and political interference, investigations by CBI is delayed by years, which effectively denies timely delivery of justice.
  • Overlapping jurisdiction:
    • There are three principal actors at the national level to combat corruption: the Lokpal, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the CBI. However, their jurisdiction often overlaps due to lack of proper delineation.
    • Eg: The Lokpal has jurisdiction over Group A and B public servants. This does not deprive the CBI of its own jurisdiction over these two groups.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Statutory recognition:
    • Providing legal backing to the CBI, which provides adequate financial and functional autonomy, legal competence and parliamentary oversight can reduce political interference and improve the credibility of CBI.
  • Reduce vacancies:
    • To overcome vacancies, the government should encourage direct recruitments and simplify recruitment rules to overcome the procedural bottlenecks.
  • Rationalise deputation:
    • Less dependence should be placed on deputation and the deputation policy should be so framed that it does not adversely affect the promotion prospects of direct CBI officers.
  • Capacity building:
    • Long term planning should be envisaged to ensure that officers in CBI at all levels are trained to realize their full potential and to ensure that they are capable of rendering their duties effectively.
  • Incentive specialization:
    • The government may consider making terms of deputation to the CBI more rewarding in order to retain capable officers and to attract best officers from the State police forces, Central paramilitary forces, Intelligence Bureau, etc.,
  • International Centre of Excellence in Investigation:
    • Setting up of International Centre of Excellence in Investigation (ICEI-CBI) at the CBI Academy, Ghaziabad, was announced in 2015 to offer world-class certified courses on investigation and prosecution in specialised and emerging domains of crime, including cybercrime. Its establishment should be fast-tracked.  
  • Merge anti-corruption wings:
    • Given the overlapping functions of anti-corruption agencies, a Parliamentary Committee in 2018 recommended the integration of Central Vigilance Commission and anti-corruption wing of the CBI to work directly under the command and control of Lokpal to deal with corruption cases.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q. To reassure its credibility and efficiency, the CBI needs to be strengthened in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources. Discuss?