Freeing The Caged Parrot : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 24/09/2022

Relevance: GS-2: Statutory, regulatory, and various quasi-judicial bodies

Key Phrases: Jain Hawala Case, Vineet Narain V. Union Of India, Central Vigilance Commission, Delhi Special Police Establishment Act

Why in News?

  • Despite several observations made by the Supreme Court (SC) against the inefficient functioning of the CBI, nothing seems to have happened to improve the situation and it is alleged that there is a continuing bias in the functioning of the CBI and the ED.

Key Highlights:

Various SC cases related to the inefficient functioning of the CBI:

  1. Jain Hawala case:
    • The criminal negligence of the CBI first came forward in a militancy and corruption-related matter popularly known as the Jain Hawala case which was a money laundering case wherein the CBI acted irresponsibly.
  2. Vineet Narain v. Union of India:
    • CBI failed to initiate investigations of the officials with the apparent intent to protect certain implicated individuals who were extremely influential in government and politics.
    • Recognizing the failure of the CBI to investigate allegations of public corruption, the SC ordered that the CBI be placed under the supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) which was given a statutory status which was earlier an independent governmental agency.
    • However, in the absence of any deterrence, the agency continues to disregard the directions of the SC with impunity.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • CBI is the premier investigative agency of India, headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The motto of CBI is "Industry, Impartiality and Integrity"
  • It operates under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and functions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPEA), 1946.
  • Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1963) recommended the establishment of the CBI.
  • The CBI was then formed by a resolution of the Home Affairs Ministry.
  • The Ministry of Personnel, later on, took over the responsibility of the CBI and now it plays the role of an attached office.
  • It is not a statutory body.
  • Under Section 6 of the DSPEA Act 1946, a state government routinely grants consent to CBI for exercising its authority in the respective state.

Structure of CBI:

  • The CBI is headed by a director, an IPS officer with the rank of Director General of Police or Commissioner of Police (State). The director is appointed for a term of two years as held by the SC in Vineet Narain Case 1998 and provided by CVC Act 2003.
  • The amendment done through Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, in Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, empowers a committee to appoint the director of CBI.
  • The committee comprises the following people:
    • Prime Minister (Chairperson)
    • Leader of Opposition, in case there is no recognised LoP, leader of largest opposition party in Lok Sabha shall become member.
    • Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice.

Delhi Special Police Establishment Act:

  • 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 Of India during World War II.
  • Even after the end of the War, the need for a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees was felt.
  • The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was therefore brought into force in 1946.
  • The CBI's power to investigate cases is derived from this Act.

Consents with CBI:

  1. Case-specific consent– 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.
  2. General consent: It is in general, provided to aid the CBI in easily performing its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent though a state can withdraw such consent.

Suggestions for the improvement of the functioning of the CBI under the supervision of the CVC:

  1. Amendment of CVC Act:
    • The selection process of the CVC members should be more broad-based to prevent favouritism or appointment of controversial persons and the selections should be made as transparent as possible
    • Constitution of the advisory committee: The CVC should constitute an advisory committee of at least 11 members drawn from criminologists and forensic science experts to augment the professional input in its functioning.
    • Further, to reduce the burden on the CVC, it should be given the power to go to any expert or professional to assist it in screening complaints.
  2. Jurisdiction of CVC:
    • The jurisdiction of CVC which presently covers all employees of the central government and the CPSUs, should remain unchanged.
    • The CVC should exercise complete control over the selection, appointment, and functioning of the Chief Vigilance Officers.
  3. Adequately experienced team:
    • The CVC should have an adequately experienced team to technically examine and assess the gravity of a complaint, which can then be assigned to the CBI for investigation or can be investigated by this team.
    • After assessing a complaint by this broad-based CVC, there should be no need to seek prior permission from the government.
  4. Functional and financial independency of CBI:
    • In the cases assigned to it by the CVC, the CBI should be made functionally and financially independent of the controls of any government ministry/department.
    • The professional supervision over the investigations of the CBI should rest only with the CVC.
  5. Broadbased appointment of the CBI Director:
    • The manner of the appointment of the CBI Director should be broadbased as in the case of the CVC members, whereas the other inductions/appointments in the CBI should be brought under the overarching supervision of the CVC.
  6. Better synergy between anti-corruption laws and grievance handling:
    • The laws relating to whistleblowers and grievance redressal should be placed within the jurisdiction of the CVC.
  7. Effective administration of anti-corruption laws:
    • The effective administration of anti-corruption laws at the grassroots is the key to responsible governance.
    • The states and their anti-corruption agencies would, therefore, need to be equally insulated from the state government’s interference on similar lines.


  • It is for the nation to demand that the country’s premier investigating agencies like the CBI, income tax authorities, and the ED are not used as instruments of blackmail and intimidation by the government of the day.
  • Rather they should work with complete objectivity and in the interest of the nation.

Source: Indian Express

Mains Question:

Q. Despite several observations made by the Supreme Court of India against the inefficient functioning of the CBI, nothing has happened to improve the situation and there is a continuing bias in the functioning of the CBI and the ED. Examine and suggest the way forward for the improvement of the functioning of the CBI. (250 words).