Context: Supreme Court of India (SC) has made several observation and comment against the inefficient functioning of the CBI and still this is continuing without much improving the situation.
- In 2013, the SC once again made strong observations against the functioning of the CBI and referring to the “Vineet Narain” judgment, said that nothing had improved since 1997, when this judgment was delivered.
- CBI, ED must be reformed if they are not to be used as instruments of intimidation, blackmail by governments.
What Challenges are Faced by the CBI?
- Political Interference: The Supreme Court of India has criticised the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”, due to excessive political interference in its functioning.
- Delayed Investigations: It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations – For example, the inertia in its probe against the high dignitaries in Jain hawala diaries case [of the 1990s].
- Loss of Credibility: Improving the image of the agency is one of the biggest challenges till now as the agency has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal, Hawala scandal, Sant Singh Chatwal case, Bhopal gas tragedy, 2008 Noida double murder case(Aarushi Talwar).
- 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, through a system of inefficient, and inexplicably biased, recruitment policies – used to bring in favoured officers, possibly to the detriment of the organisation.
- 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, of the level of Joint Secretary and above is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.
The following steps can be taken to improvement of the functioning of the CBI under the supervision of the CVC, can be improved in order to enhance efficiency:
- One, the CVC Act should be amended, providing for a five/seven-member Central Vigilance Commission, which could broadly assume the role visualised for the Lokpal
- The selection process of the CVC members should be broader based to prevent favouritism or from controversial persons being appointed.
- Currently, three members are drawn from the IAS, IPS and the Banking services. It should include one retired judge of the Supreme Court appointed by the CJI in consultation with the next four senior most judges.
- Since the legislative wing of our democracy is crucial for matters of governance, it would be worthwhile to include one Member of Parliament, selected from those who have been members of either House for the longest duration.
- In addition, two to three members should have engineering expertise, to assess the scams like the Commonwealth Games and one person should have a chartered accountancy background to examine financial scams. These selections should be made as transparent as possible.
- Two, the CVC should constitute an advisory committee of at least 11 members drawn from criminologists and forensic science experts.
- This will augment the professional input in its functioning. Further, to reduce the burden on the CVC, it should be given the power to go to any expert or professional to assist it in screening complaints
- Three, the jurisdiction of CVC, which presently covers all employees of the central government and the CPSUs, should remain unchanged.
- There is already an administrative arrangement to delegate the vigilance administration over class II and lower formations to the ministries/departments concerned.
- To make this arrangement more effective, it would be important that the CVC exercises complete control over the selection, appointment and functioning of the CVOs.
- Four, the CVC should have an adequately experienced team to technically examine and assess the gravity of a complaint, which can then be assigned to the CBI for investigation or can be investigated by this team.
- After assessing a complaint by this broad-based CVC, there should be no need to seek prior permission from the government.
- Five, in the cases assigned to it by the CVC, the CBI should be made functionally and financially independent of the controls of any government ministry/department.
- The professional supervision over the investigations of the CBI should rest only with the CVC.
- Six, the manner of the appointment of the CBI Director should be broad based as in the case of the CVC members, whereas the other inductions/appointments in the CBI should be brought under the overarching supervision of the CVC.
- Seven, to achieve better synergy between anti-corruption laws and grievance handling, the laws relating to the whistle-blowers and grievance redressal should be placed within the jurisdiction of the CVC.
- Eight, effective administration of anti-corruption laws at the grass roots is the key to responsible governance. The state and their anti-corruption agencies would, therefore, need to be equally insulated from the state government’s interference on similar lines.
- As, the CBI, DRI and income tax agencies would do their duty, ensure proper investigations, and take the case to its logical conclusion, therefore it become necessary that they perform their functions in transparent manner without fear and favour to individual or group or party
- It is for the national interest that the country’s premier investigating agencies like the CBI, income tax authorities and the ED are not used as instruments of blackmail and intimidation by the government of the day. Rather they should work with complete objectivity and in the interest of the nation.
MUST READ: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
Source: Indian Express