Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Context: Parveen Sood, a 1986 batch officer, has been appointed director of CBI for a period of two years.

About CBI: 

  • It was setup in 1963 by resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The establishment of the CBI was recommended by Santhanam Committee.
  • It is a non-constitutional and non-statutory body.
  • It derives its powers from the Delhi Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • It is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.
  • It acts as the “National Central Bureau” of Interpol in India.

Director of CBI:

  • The CBI is headed by a Director.
  • The director of CBI has been provided security of two-year tenure in office by CVC Act, 2003.
  • Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013 amended the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 and made following changes: The Central Government shall appoint the Director of CBI on the recommendations of a three-member committee consisting of Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India or Judge of Supreme Court nominated by him.

Functions of CBI:

  • Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees.
  • Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws.
  • Investigating serious crimes, having national and international ramifications, committed by organized gangs of professional criminals.
  • Coordinating the activities of anticorruption agencies and various state police forces.
  • It takes up investigation of conventional crimes like murder, kidnapping, rape etc. on the reference from the state governments or when directed by the Supreme Court/High Courts.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is India’s premier investigative agency, responsible for conducting probes into a wide range of crimes and offences. However, the agency has faced several issues and controversies in recent years. 

  • Limited jurisdiction: Its jurisdiction is limited to certain types of cases, such as those related to corruption or economic offences. This has led to questions about the agency’s ability to investigate other types of crimes, such as terrorism or organized crime.
  • Withdrawal of Consent: The work of the agency has been further constrained by the increasingly hostile relations between the Centre and the state governments. As many as nine states have withdrawn general consent to the CBI. Most of these are Opposition-ruled states, which have alleged that the CBI is being used by the Centre to target the Opposition.
  • Political interference: CBI is often accused of being used as a tool by the ruling government to target political opponents and shield their own leaders from corruption charges. E.g., CBI’s investigation into the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal was seen as politically motivated by the opposition parties. 
  • Lack of autonomy: CBI is supposed to be an independent investigating agency, but it often faces interference from the government and its officials. In 2018, the CBI director Alok Verma was removed from his post and sent on leave by the government, which led to a controversy over the agency’s autonomy. 
  • Delay in investigations: It is known for its slow pace of investigations, which often leads to delays in justice and allows the accused to go scot-free. For example, the investigation into the 2G spectrum scam took several years to complete, which led to criticism from the public and the media. 
  • Lack of transparency: It is often criticized for its lack of transparency in its functioning and investigations. The agency’s refusal to disclose information under the Right to Information Act has been challenged in courts by activists and journalists. E.g., In the 2017 Ryan International School murder case, the CBI was criticized for not disclosing key information about the investigation.
  • Corruption within the agency: CBI itself has been rocked by corruption scandals in the past, which have raised questions about its credibility and impartiality. In 2018, the CBI arrested its own DSP Devender Kumar for allegedly falsifying records in a case against the meat exporter Moin Qureshi. 
  • Inefficient use of resources: Its resources are often stretched thin due to its heavy workload, which leads to inefficiencies in its functioning. The agency has a backlog of several thousand cases, which has led to the demand for more resources and manpower. 
  • Lack of expertise: Its investigators are often accused of lacking the necessary expertise and skills to handle complex cases. For instance, the agency’s investigation into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh was criticized for being shoddy and inadequate.
  • Internal Conflicts: The issue between former Director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, who accused each other of corruption and interference in ongoing investigations, led to two factions within the CBI. The conflict affected the CBI’s credibility and raised concerns about independence.

Way Forward: 

  • Greater Autonomy: The 2nd ARC have recommended enactment of a comprehensive central legislation to remove the deficiencies of not having a central investigative agency having its own laws and charter of duties and functions. 
  • Increase Jurisdiction: 24th Parliamentary Standing Committee even suggested CBI to take Suo moto cognizance of crimes and to give CBI pan Indian jurisdiction including jurisdiction to investigate corruption charges against officers of All India Service.
  • Enhanced Accountability: To ensure greater accountability, the CBI should be made answerable to a parliamentary committee rather than the executive. This would help to prevent interference in the agency’s functioning and improve transparency. 
  • Strengthening Coordination: The CBI should strengthen coordination with state police forces and other law enforcement agencies to enhance its investigative capabilities. This would help to avoid duplication of effort and ensure that cases are investigated thoroughly and efficiently.

UPSC Mains 2021 (GS II)

Q. The jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding lodging an FIR and conducting probe within a particular state is being questioned by various States. However, the power of States to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute. Explain with special reference to the federal character of India. (Answer in 250 words)

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