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Central Bureau of Investigation

Context:

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has recently come under intense public scrutiny, according to Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana. Its actions and inactions have sparked doubts about its credibility.

  • The CJI has recommended an umbrella, independent, and autonomous investigative body in order to overhaul law enforcement agencies.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution, Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
  2. Functions of CBI
  3. Challenges of CBI

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 after the recommendation of Santhanam committee under Ministry of Home affairs and was later transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
  • Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • The CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, however, it is NOT a Statutory Body.
  • CBI is the apex anti-corruption body in the country – Along with being the main investigating agency of the Central Government it also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
  • The CBI is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central Government before conducting any inquiry or investigation.
  • The CBI is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
  • The CBI’s conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.
  • The CBI is headed by a Director and he is assisted by a special director or an additional director. It has joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police.

CBI has following divisions

  • Anti-Corruption Division
  • Economic Offences Division
  • Special Crimes Division
  • Policy and International Police Cooperation Division
  • Administration Division
  • Directorate of Prosecution
  • Central Forensic Science Laboratory

Functions of CBI

  • Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees
  • Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws, that is, breach of laws concerning export and import control, customs and central excise, income tax, foreign exchange regulations and so on. However, such cases are taken up either in consultation with or at the request of the department concerned.
  • Investigating serious crimes, having national and international ramifications, committed by organized gangs of professional criminals.
  • Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces.
  • Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
  • The CBI acts as the “National Central Bureau” of Interpol in India.

Challenges of CBI

  • The CBI has been dubbed a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice” by the Supreme Court of India due to excessive political influence in its operations. It has frequently been utilised by the government to conceal misdeeds, keep coalition allies in line, and keep political opponents at away. It has been accused of massive delays in concluding investigations, such as in its investigation into high-ranking Jain dignitaries in the Jain hawala diaries case [in the 1990s].
  • Loss of Credibility: Improving the agency’s image has been one of the most difficult challenges so far, as the agency has been chastised for its mishandling of several high-profile cases, including the Bofors scandal, the Hawala scandal, the Sant Singh Chatwal case, the Bhopal gas tragedy, and the 2008 Noida double murder case (Aarushi Talwar).
  • Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempt from the Right to Information Act, which means it is not accountable to the public.
  • Acute staff shortage: One of the key causes of the shortfall is the government’s mishandling of the CBI’s employees, which includes an inefficient and inexplicably biassed recruitment policy that was utilised to bring in favoured officials, possibly to the organization’s damage.
  • Limited Authority: Members of the CBI’s investigative powers and jurisdiction are subject to the consent of the State Government, restricting the scope of the CBI’s inquiry.
  • Restricted Access: Obtaining prior authorisation from the Central Government to initiate an inquiry or probe into Central Government workers at the level of Joint Secretary and above is a major impediment to tackling corruption at the highest levels of government.

-Source: The Hindu

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October 2022
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