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Central Bureau of Investigation

premier investigating agency of India

Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is
headed by the Director

agency has been known to investigate several economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and
other high-profile cases

Special Police Establishment (SPE)

Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Special Police Establishment, a Central Government
Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India to investigate bribery and corruption
in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India.

After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate
bribery and corruption by central-government employees.

department was transferred to the Home Department by the 1946 Delhi Special Police Establishment Act

DSPE's scope was enlarged to cover all departments of the Government of India. Its jurisdiction extended
to the Union Territories, and could be further extended to the states with the consent of the state
governments involved.

Sardar Patel, first Deputy Prime Minister of free India and head of the Home Department, desired to
weed out corruption in erstwhile princely states such as Jodhpur, Rewa and Tonk
DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry
resolution of 1963

CBI established a reputation as India's foremost investigative agency with the resources for complicated
cases, and it was requested to assist the investigation of crimes such as murder, kidnapping and
terrorism. The Supreme Court and a number of high courts in the country also began assigning such
investigations to the CBI on the basis of petitions filed by aggrieved parties.

Appointment of director

Delhi Special Police Establishment Act empowers a committee to appoint the director of CBI. The
committee consists the following people:

Prime Minister – chairperson

Leader of Opposition – member

Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member

Above Selection committee was constituted under The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. Before this
central vigilance commissioner, under CVC act, had this power.


Section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act doesn’t allow the government to transfer the CBI
Director during the two-year fixed tenure without the previous consent of said high powered committee
This was introduced by The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

Till then, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was a part of the committee mentioned in Section 4B.
It isn’t any longer, and thus has no role in asking the government to divest the CBI Director of his powers.

The present CBI chief, Alok Verma, appointed by this procedure, has contended that he can be shifted
only by the select committee and not by the CVC. The issue awaits Supreme Court’s decision.

Jurisdiction, powers and restrictions

The CBI figures in the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution of India. Sl. No. 8 of this
List reads: “Central Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation.”

The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers,
duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI)

The central government may extend to any area (except Union Territories) the powers and jurisdiction of
the CBI for investigation, subject to the consent of the government of the concerned state.

Under the act, the CBI can investigate only with notification by the central government.

Relationship with state police

Maintaining law and order is a state responsibility as "police" is a State subject, and the jurisdiction to
investigate crime lies with the state police exclusively .

The CBI being a Union subject may investigate:

Offences against central-government employees, or concerning affairs of the central government and
employees of central public-sector undertakings and public-sector banks

Cases involving the financial interests of the central government

Breaches of central laws enforceable by the Government of India

Major fraud or embezzlement;

multi-state organised crime

Multi-agency or international cases

High Courts and the Supreme Court

High Courts and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to order a CBI investigation into an offence
alleged to have been committed in a state without the state's consent
Who supervises , controls CBI ?

Section 4 of the Delhi Police Establishment Act provides that the CBI will function under the
‘superintendency’ of the Central government

Vineet Narain case(better known as Hawala case)

the apex court observed that Section 4 of the Act cannot prevent actual supervision of an offence by
the CBI, and the Central government is precluded from issuing any direction to curtail its jurisdiction to
investigate into the offences

CVC's control

The apex court gave the power of superintendence over the CBI to the Central Vigilance Commissioner
(CVC), but it was only with regard to cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Thus, the
control of the CVC over the CBI is partial and shared.

( Recording of the ACRs is with the government, and the superintendence of the CBI in all other cases is
with the government. )

Suggested reforms

CBI, should be vested with ex-officio powers of the Secretary to the Government of India, reporting
directly to the minister, without having to go through the DoPT

Some form of autonomy has been granted by the Supreme Court of India to CBI when it held that CBI can
prosecute senior bureaucrats without central government’s permission.

Constitutional status

Assam High Court had given a verdict on 6 November 2013, that CBI is unconstitutional and does not
hold a legal status.However, the Supreme Court of India stayed this verdict when challenged by the
central government

ultimate solution for Indian government is to formulate a law for CBI as sooner or later the Supreme
Court may hold the constitution of CBI unconstitutional.

CBI must have an Act

A powerful body like the CBI must have an Act laying down comprehensively its duties and functions.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission strongly recommended a new Act to govern the
working of the CBI.

The law enacted by Parliament should seek to insulate it from extraneous pressures, and make it
apolitical and independent.
For this, there are models in other countries which can be suitably adopted. There have been
suggestions that the CBI Director should be given an independent constitutional status, like the CAG, and
his report should be laid before Parliament. Another alternative is keeping the CBI under parliamentary

Fali Nariman's views

as noted by jurist Fali Nariman that the CBI works ‘on the nods and winks of ministers or senior officers
of administrative ministries’.

The reason for this unwillingness to change — the political executive must exercise superintendence
over the police organisations, so that they can misuse them for illegitimate and partisan purposes.

Quick read

India is no longer the country of 1946 and CBI is no longer what the Delhi Special Police
Establishment was in those days.

The size of the organisation has expanded, the pattern and incidence of crime which it is required to
investigate have altered, its charter of functions has enlarged considerably, the political environment in
which it is functioning has been transformed, citizens’ expectations from this agency have grown, and
the norms and standards of police investigation work all over the world have seen a sea change.

The legislation governing an important organisation like the CBI must reflect these developments. It
must recognise the paramount obligation of the organisation to function according to the requirements
of the constitution. It must mandate them to function to protect and promote the rule of law. Legislation
must define the word “superintendence”, and establish institutional and other arrangements to insulate
the organisation from undesirable and illegitimate external control, pressures and influences. It must
ensure that the central government’s control over the agency is so exercised as to ensure that its
performance is in strict accordance with the law. The Act must make it a statutory responsibility of the
government to establish an efficient and impartial system of investigation. It should set objectives,
define performance standards and establish monitoring instrument, prescribe procedures for
appointment and removal of officers, delineate the CBI’s powers as well as functions, outline the
philosophy and practices expected of the agency, and, prescribe mechanisms to ensure their
accountability. There should be no provision that can be used to provide impunity.

Officers on deputation

At present, CBI officers are mainly police officers on deputation from the states. It should have its own
cadre of well-trained and competent officers. Recruitment of CBI officers in the rank of DSPs has been
stopped for some time. This may be restarted. In the CBI cadre, there should be officers on deputation
not only from the police, but also from departments like Customs, Income Tax, and other services.

Loss of trust in CBI , misuse for political gains

Withdrawl of 'general consent'

Andhra Pradesh, West bengal order withdrawing permission to the CBI automatically taking up cases in
the state

Reason (A.P)

AP withdrew its ‘general consent’ as it suspected the CBI was planning raids on Telugu Desam leaders in
a pressure tactic to dampen CM Chandrababu Naidu’s activism on forging Opposition unity

Example of CBI misuse

a Karnataka minister’s resort was raided after he hosted Congress MLAs from Gujarat on the eve of Rajya
Sabha polls

Concern for security

dragging of the CBI into a political slugfest between federalists and proponents of a strong Centre does
not augur well in a security environment where crime and terrorism have transcended national borders

CBI, CVC issue

Supreme Court's decisions

case continues the trend of the Supreme Court stepping into the executive’s domain. It has, never,
however, done so to this extent. Two principal agencies in the fight against corruption, the CBI and the
CVC, will function under its scrutiny.

SC not immediately reinstated the CBI Director

instead has clipped the wings of the “interim” Director, restraining him from making any policy or major
decisions, except those that are routine and essential for the CBI to function
CBI, in essence, is now under the Supreme Court’s administration.

CVC under SC

retired Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Patnaik has been appointed

to supervise the investigation into the complaints against Mr. Verma

CVC requires supervision by the Supreme Court reveals the shocking state of disrepair in the system.