Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)


    In News 

    • Recently, the Calcutta High Court  ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the killings in Bogtui village of West Bengal’s Birbhum district, where eight persons were burnt alive, hours after the murder of a Trinamool Congress panchayat leader.
      • The court directed the state government “to extend full cooperation to CBI in carrying out the further investigation”.

    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.

    How does the CBI take up cases?

    • Unlike the NIA, CBI cannot take suo motu cognizance of a case in a state — whether in a matter of corruption involving government officials of the Centre and PSU staff, or an incident of violent crime.
    • In order to take up corruption cases involving central government staff, it either needs general consent (see last question) of the state government, or specific consent on a case-to-case basis. 
    • For all other cases, whether involving corruption in the state government or an incident of crime, the state has to request an investigation by the CBI, and the Centre has to agree to the same.
    • In case the state does not make such a request, the CBI can take over a case based on the orders of the High Court concerned or the Supreme Court.

    Can the CBI decline to take up a case for investigation?

    • After a state makes a request for an inquiry by the CBI, the Centre seeks the opinion of the agency. 
    • If the CBI feels that it is not worthwhile for it to expend time and energy on the case, it may decline to take it up. 
      • In the past, the CBI has refused to take over cases citing lack of enough personnel to investigate, and saying it is overburdened.
        • In 2015, the agency had told the Supreme Court that it could not take any more Vyapam scam cases because it did not have enough staff to investigate them.

    What is the role of state consent in an investigation by the CBI?

    • Since 2015, as many as nine states — Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Mizoram and Meghalaya — have withdrawn general consent to the CBI
      • Opposition-ruled states have alleged the CBI has become its master’s voice, and has been unfairly targeting opposition politicians.
    • Withdrawal of general consent means that to probe any case in these states, CBI would have to take prior permission from the state government. 
      • CBI has claimed that this has tied its hands.
    • In November 2021, the Supreme Court expressed concern over CBI’s submission that 78% of its 150 requests for sanction to investigate cases were pending with state governments that had withdrawn consent to the CBI.