Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column width=\”1/2\”][vc_column_text]What is CBI?

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India.

It provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.

It functions under the superintendence of the Deptt. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India – which falls under the prime minister’s office.

However for investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, its superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.

It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.

Its conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.

History of CBI

During the early stages of World War II, the then Government of India realized that expanded expenditure connected with the war had increased corrupt practices among both officials and non-officials.

The Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies, which functioned under the State Governments, were not adequate to cope with the situation.

It was under these circumstances, that the setting up of a separate organization to investigate offenses connected with these transactions became a necessity.

Consequently, the organization known as the Special Police Establishment (S.P.E.) was created under a Deputy Inspector General of Police by the Government of India, in 1941, by executive order.

The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.

The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Department during World War II.

Even after the end of the War, the Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees decided to be continued.

The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was brought into force in 1946.

This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the Govt. of India.

The jurisdiction of the SPE extended to all the Union Territories and could be extended also to the States with the consent of the State Government concerned.

The Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption recommended the establishment of the CBI.

The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated 1.4.1963.

The SPE initially had two Wings- the General Offences Wing (GOW) and Economic Offences Wing (EOW).

How is the Director of CBI appointed?

Director, CBI as Inspector General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization.

In 2014, the Lokpal Act provided a committee for the appointment of CBI Director:

  • Headed by Prime Minister
  • Other members – Leader of Opposition/ Leader of the single largest opposition party, Chief Justice of India/ a Supreme Court Judge.
  • Home Ministry sends a list of eligible candidates to DoPT. Then, the DoPT prepares the final list on basis of seniority, integrity, and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases, and sends it to the committee

In 2021, The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, of 1946 and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, of 2003 were amended to extend the tenure of CBI and ED directors respectively.

Provided that the period for which the Director holds the office on his initial appointment may, in the public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee (the committee led by the Prime Minister and leader of Opposition and CJI as members) and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended up to one year at a time.

Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment.

What Type of Cases are Handled by the CBI?

Anti-Corruption Crimes – for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Public officials and the employees of Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations or Bodies owned or controlled by the Government of India.

Economic Crimes – for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime, bank frauds, Import Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cultural property and smuggling of other contraband items etc.

Special Crimes – for investigation of serious and organized crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the requests of State Governments or on the orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts – such as cases of terrorism, bomb blasts, kidnapping for ransom and crimes committed by the mafia/the underworld.

Suo Moto Cases – CBI can suo-moto take up investigation of offences only in the Union Territories.

The Central Government can authorize CBI to investigate a crime in a State but only with the consent of the concerned State Government.

The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order CBI to investigate a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of the State

What Challenges are Faced by the 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.

Delayed Investigations: It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations – For example, the inertia in its probe against the high dignitaries in Jain hawala diaries case [of the 1990s].

Loss of Credibility: Improving the image of the agency is one of the biggest challenges till now as the agency has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal, Hawala scandal, Sant Singh Chatwal case, Bhopal gas tragedy, 2008 Noida double murder case(Aarushi Talwar).

Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.

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 favored officers, possibly to the detriment of the organization.

Limited Powers: The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of an investigation by CBI.

Restricted Access: Prior approval of the Central Government to conduct an 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.

Issue of Consent: Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This can lead to certain cases not being investigated and seeing a silent deadlock. Recently, states like Andhra Pradesh (consent is again given after a change of government in-state) and West Bengal withdrew consent.

There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general– Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that particular state government gives its consent.

“General consent” is in general, provided to aid the CBI easily perform its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent. Or else, the bureau would need consent in all cases.

As per Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act,1946, the state governments can withdraw the general consent accorded.

The CBI would still have the authority to probe old cases registered when general consent existed. Also, cases registered elsewhere in India, but involving people stationed in states which have withdrawn consent, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states as well.

Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of states which have withdrawn consent. But, the CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to investigate people inside such states.

What can be done to Ensure Better Functioning of the CBI?

  1. Delink the CBI from the administrative control of the government – As long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigating agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely.
  2. Providing statutory status through legislation equivalent to that provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General and the Election Commission wil help maintain the independence of the institution.
  3. Twenty fourth report of Department related parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice on working of CBI recommended the following:
  4. Strengthening human resources by increasing strength of CBI,
  5. Better investments in infrastructural facilities,
  6. Increased financial resource and administrative empowerment with accountability,
  7. Give more Powers (related to Union, State and Concurrent list of the 7th schedule of Indian constitution), to the CBI, Separate enactment under – \”Central Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation Act\” and replace DSPE Act.
  8. In 1978, the L P Singh committee recommended enactment of a “comprehensive central legislation to remove the deficiency of not having a central investigative agency with a self-sufficient statutory charter of duties and functions”.
  9. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) also suggested that “a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI”.

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