New law for CBI

 8/15/2017  457

CBI or Central Bureau of Investigation is the chief investigating agency of the Union Government which investigates crimes of corruption and other major crimes referred to it by the Union. It originated as Delhi Special Police Establishment in 1941 to look for bribery and corruption in the war supply department during World War II.

Then in 1964 following the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee, CBI came into being under the DSPE Act through a resolution of Home Ministry. CBI is not a statutory body as CBI name is not mentioned in the DSPE and the resolution of Home Ministry does not expressively say that CBI is to be constituted under the DSPE Act.
Recently, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice (PSC) recommended that a new independent law/statute be enacted for CBI. But the recommendation was turned down by the government.

Why the need for an independent law?

  • CBI has been termed as a 'caged parrot' due to its lack of independence from the central government and for the fact that its working has been affected by political interferences by those in power.
  • Powers given to the CBI under the DSPE Act are not adequate considering that with changing times it has grown into a more dynamic agency specializing in prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes.
  • CBI turns to the State or other Central Forces to plug the vacancies in the establishment. An independent statute will allow CBI to manage its cadre more effectively.
  •  An independent law could pave way for financial independence of CBI thereby reducing its dependence on the government for finances.
  •  Apart from autonomy, an independent statute will lead to clarity in organisation, goals and roles for the CBI

Opposition to the independent law:

  • Introduction of a new law will require constitutional amendment and will impinge on the federal structure of Indian polity. This is because, policing is a state subject.
  • Some also argue that since CBI is the Chief Investigating Agency, control of Union over it is essential to ensure Public Accountability.

Way Forward

The independent law for CBI is a step in the right direction as it will give it functional autonomy and lead to enhanced efficiency in its working.  But any such law should clearly define the roles and powers of CBI so that there is no conflict with the roles performed by state police.


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