CJI on Credibility of CBI


    In Context

    • Chief Justice of India said CBI’s credibility has come under deep public scrutiny with the passage of time as its actions and inactions have raised questions in some cases.

    Major issue Highlighted 

    • The Chief Justice of India listed several issues that were affecting the system. 
      • They included lack of infrastructure, sufficient manpower and modern equipment; in-human conditions, especially at the lowest rung; questionable methods of procuring evidence; officers failing to abide by the rule book; and lack of accountability of erring officers.
      • The issues leading to delay in trials were lack of public prosecutors and standing counsels; seeking adjournments; arraying hundreds of witnesses and filing voluminous documents in pending trials; undue imprisonment of undertrials; change in priorities with the change in the political executive; cherry picking of evidence; and repeated transfers of officers leading to a change in the direction of probe.
      • These issues often lead to the acquittal of the guilty and incarceration of the innocent. 
      • This severely affects the public trust in the system. The courts cannot simply monitor every step.

    Suggested Reforms /Recommendations

    • Creation of Independent umbrella institution:
      • There was an immediate need for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, so as to bring various central agencies like the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office under one roof.
        • This body is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions and jurisdictions
    • Independency: 
    • The organisation should be headed by an independent and impartial authority, appointed by a committee akin to the one which appointed the CBI Director. 
    • Its head could be assisted by deputies having specialisation in different domains.
    • Multiple Proceeding: 
      • This umbrella organisation will end multiplicity of proceedings.
      • A single incident these days gets investigated by multiple agencies, often leading to dilution of evidence, contradiction in depositions, prolonged incarceration of innocents.
      • End in multiplicity of proceedings will also save the institution from being blamed as a tool of harassment. 
    • Once an incident is reported, the organisation should decide as to which specialised wing should take up investigation
    • Check & Balance: 
      • A reasonable check and balance would be a provision in the proposed law for annual audit of the institution’s performance by the appointing committee.
    • Cooperation between the Police and  investigative agencies:
      • Police and the investigative agencies may have de-facto legitimacy, but yet, as institutions, they still have to gain social legitimacy.
        • Police should work impartially and focus on crime prevention. 
          • They should also work in cooperation with the public to ensure law and order prevails in the society.
        • Institutions including the Police and the investigative bodies should not allow any authoritarian tendencies to creep in and need to function within the democratic framework as any deviation will hurt them and will weaken our democracy
      • The State agencies must be equipped to deal with increasing challenges in the field of investigation. 
      • There should be a harmonious relationship between the State and Central agencies and collaboration was the key, given that the goal of all those organisations was to secure justice.
    • Representation of women:
      • There was a need for adequate representation of women in the criminal justice system.
    •  Upgradation of knowledge:
      • There is a need for regular upgradation of knowledge, deployment of state-of-the-art technology, and international exchange programmes to learn the best practices.

    About Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

    • It is the premier investigating police agency in India. 
    • It has its origin in the Special Police Establishment set up in 1941 to probe bribery and corruption during World War II.
    • It was set up by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1963 after Santhanam committee recommendation.
      • It functions under the Department  of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India.
    • It is an elite force playing a major role in preservation of values in public life and in ensuring the health of the national economy
    • It is also the nodal police agency in India, which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
    • The Supreme Court, the High Courts, the Parliament and the public, holds CBI as an organisation in high esteem. 

    Power and Functions 

    • The CBI has to investigate major crimes in the country having interstate and international ramifications
    • The legal powers of investigation of CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946.
      • This Act confers concurrent and coextensive powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) with Police Officers of the Union Territories. 
    • The Central Government may extend to any area, besides Union Territories, the powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation subject to the consent of the Government of the concerned State Govt
      • While exercising such powers, members of the CBI of or above the rank of Sub Inspector shall be deemed officers in charge of Police Stations of respective jurisdictions. 
      • The CBI can investigate only such offences as are notified by the Central Government under the DSPE Act.
    • CBI investigations have a major impact on the political and economic life of the nation. The following broad categories of criminal cases are handled by the CBI:
      • Cases of corruption and fraud committed by public servants of all Central Govt. Departments, Central Public Sector Undertakings and Central Financial Institutions.
        • The Anti-Corruption Division of the CBI has handled cases against Chief Ministers, Ministers, Secretaries to Government, Officers of the All India Services, CMDs of Banks, Financial Institutions, Public Sector Undertakings, etc.
      • Economic crimes, including bank frauds, financial frauds, Import Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cultural property and smuggling of other contraband items etc.
      • Special Crimes, such as cases of terrorism, bomb blasts, sensational homicides, kidnapping for ransom and crimes committed by the mafia/the underworld.

    Jurisdiction of CBI vis-a-vis State Police

    • Law and Order is a State subject and the basic jurisdiction to investigate crime lies with State Police. Besides, due to limited resources, the CBI would not be able to investigate crimes of all kinds. CBI may investigate:
      • Cases which are essentially against the Central Govt. employees or concerning affairs of the Central Govt.
      • Cases in which the financial interests of the Central Government are involved.
      • Cases relating to the breaches of Central Laws with the enforcement of which the Government of India is mainly concerned.
      • Big cases of fraud, cheating, embezzlement and the like relating to companies in which large funds are involved and similar other cases when committed by organised gangs or professional criminals having ramifications in several States.
      • Cases having interstate and international ramifications and involving several official agencies where, from all angles, it is considered necessary that a single investigating agency should be in charge of the investigation.