Central Bureau of Investigation : Analysis – UPSC GS2

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI):
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is not a statutory body, it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • It was established in 1941 as the Special Police Establishment, entrusted with domestic security.
  • Later, the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption recommended the establishment of the CBI. It is the main investigating agency of the GOI.
  • Read more basics about CBI from Prelims Notes.
“The CBI has become the state’s parrot. Only screaming, repeating the master’s voice” ~Justice R.M. Lodha
Issues with 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.
    • It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
  • Overlapping Agencies:
    • A single incident these days gets investigated by multiple agencies, often leading to dilution of evidence, contradiction in depositions, prolonged incarceration of innocents.
  • 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 Government, 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.
Reforms needed:
  • Creation of Independent Umbrella Institution:
    • CJI proposed to bring various central agencies like the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office under one roof.
    • This organisation should be headed by an independent and impartial authority, appointed by a committee akin to the one which appointed the CBI Director.
    • The CJI said one additional in-built safeguard is to have separate and autonomous wings for prosecution and investigation, to ensure total independence.
    • 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.
  • Harmonious Relationship between the States and Centre:
    • With the police and public order under the State list, and the burden of investigation is primarily on the State police.
    • The State agencies must be equipped to deal with increasing challenges in the field of investigation.
    • The proposed Central law for the umbrella investigative body, can be suitably replicated by the States.
  • Bringing Gender Parity:
    • There was a need for adequate representation of women in the criminal justice system.
  • Bringing Social Legitimacy:
    • The need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust and the first step to gain the same is to break the nexus with the political executive.
  • Criminal Justice System Reforms:
    • There is need to implement long overdue Police Reforms and dealing with huge pendency of cases.
Way Forward:
The police and investigation agencies should operate within the democratic framework established by the Constitution. Any deviation will wreak havoc on the institutions and erode our democracy. The police and investigative agencies may have de facto legitimacy, but they still need to gain social legitimacy as institutions.
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