CBI: Proving to be a caged parrot of the government in power

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CBI’s (Central Bureau of Investigation) current reputation as central’s premier investigation agency lies in tatters. The inside civil war of the CBI has exposed the underbelly of this premier agency. It’s former chiefs have accused each other of corruption along with aligning other bureaucrats on their side. The institution along with it’s top bureaucrats has taken a harsh beating on its “premier reputation”. The pyrrhic war between the two directors has dragged SC (Supreme Court) judges and CVC (Chief Vigilance Commissioner) in it. With such turbulence affecting its top post, the agency’s reputation of being a caged parrot is liable to stick around. This is a sordid mess that India simply cannot afford and should not tolerate. Earlier in a Hawala case in 1990 allegations were put up on CBI for its partisanship in the matter, eventually in 1997 an SC judgment resulted into the formation of a committee for appointment of both CBI and CVC. In the same judgment SC also directed fixed 2 years tenure for the CBI chief as a measure to prevent interference by the present day government. It also mandated a supervisory role of CVC over CBI. The need for reforming the structure of CBI after its past allegations of partisanship has never been more critical and urgent.

Decent, honest, qualified and eminent people can be found in all walks of life and this must be the basis for restructuring many institutions along with CBI that suffer from the constraints that only serving or retired bureaucrats are considered suitable to run them. CBI also runs short of many things, being a premier institution, one of its being that it does not have a cadre of its own, it is run by IPS (Indian Police Service) officers on deputation. That makes it personally susceptible to manipulation as they are dependent on government for their future postings. Moreover, the present crisis, allegations of political witch hunt, and failures in corruption and bank fraud probes all make a strong case for CBI reform. It requires a comprehensive new act of Parliament, providing space for its own cadre, and enhanced checks and balances in its top appointments. It requires clear guidelines, checklists, and stipulated internal time bound procedures and practices. Many of which have already been recommended by a parliamentary committee. Without these, it is not reasonable to expect the CBI to be truly professional and nonpartisan.


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