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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Joginder Singh

The Central Bureau of Investigation, the Central Government's premier investigating agency, was given this name, by an Executive Order, on 1st April, 1963, though legally, it is the Special Police Establishment, which was originally founded in 1941 .

In fact in legal parlance, there is no such thing as CBI, as the CBI Draft Act sent to the Government has been gathering dust, for the last three decades. The SPE Act confers concurrent and coextensive powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) with Police Officers of the Union Territories. The Central Government can extend to any area, besides Union Territories, the powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation, with the consent of the concerned State Governments.

There have been instances, where for political reasons, or to avoid investigation, by the Central Bureau of Investigation some State Governments have withdrawn their consent, rendering the CBI officers there, redundant. Some States do not allow the CBI to investigate cases even against the Central Government employees on a case to case basis. A wag put it that some consents are given or not given not on case to case basis, but on suitcases to suitcases basis.Mind you, CBI generally investigates cases which are essentially against Central Government employees or concerning affairs of the Central Government or cases in which the financial interests of the Central Government are involved, or the cases, which may be referred to it by the State Governments.

However, the Constitutional Courts, that is the High Courts and the Supreme Court can order CBI investigation, without any reference or concurrence of the State Governments. To give a picture of CBI court pendency, the following figures speak for themselves:

A total of 8,297 CBI cases were awaiting trial, after completion of the investigations at the end of 2006. The pending trial cases in 2005 was 6,898. More than 2,276 cases have been pending trial in various courts for more than 10 years now. 244 cases are pending trial for over 20 years. This includes cases which are more than 25 years old.

There are 438 cases, which have been charge sheeted, have been filed but charges have not been framed by the courts for the last over 10 years. As per the latest CVC laws, even for starting any inquiry or looking into the misconduct of the officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and above, the permission of the Government is required to be taken in advance. For prosecuting, again the sanction of the Government is required before filing the chargesheet.

Over 110 officers from IAS and IPS are facing trial on criminal charges in CBI cases, as on 9th April, 2010. In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions said: 84 IAS officers and 33 IPS officers are "facing trial on criminal charges in CBI cases as on March 31, 2010."

Twenty-one cases are being investigated against IAS and six against IPS officers by CBI as on March 31, he said.

The Minister said, 15 IAS officers and one IPS officer are being investigated by the CBI under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

He added that the Government has taken several steps to restore public confidence in IAS and IPS officers. "These include speedy trial of corruption cases through setting up of special CBI courts, conducting disciplinary proceedings against the delinquent officers in a time bound manner, inculcating appropriate values, introducing mid-career mandatory training programme for IAS officers, recognising and rewarding good performers by instituting the PM's awards of excellence."

CBI cannot draw a road map, for its functioning, as it is not a Constitutional Institution, like the Election Commission or the Judiciary. The matter pertaining to the formation of a CBI Act has been gathering dust for the last over three decades. The truth is catching and punishing the corrupt is the last priority of any Government, notwithstanding the proclamation of the high and mighty of the Government, for a zero toleration for corruption.

The fact is, that CBI is a wing of the Government of the day, like Health, PWD, Education and many other Departments. All cases against the politicians, (mostly their opponents) are referred to it by the Government of the day. Technically and legally, all MPs and MLAs and other elected representatives are public servants. They are as much liable for legal action as paid Government employees. But a complete dependence on the Government for the staff, resources and sanctions literally for everything, except for going to the bath room, are required for taking action against corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Even the hiring of the best legal counsels for prosecuting high profile cases depends upon the sweet will of the Government of the day. In fact, all political parties are united on their stand against the Anti-Corruption Agencies. The weaker and ineffective, the better, is their motto. Ultimately, as what kind of governance and honest administration we will have, will depend on our elected representatives. It is time for the Government to strengthen CBI to prevent the loot of the country's resources by the dishonest and the corrupt. Laws need to be simplified, so that CBI cases are not dragged on by the unscrupulous for years together. If this does not happen under the stewardship of an impeccably honest Prime Minister, then there is no hope of its happening under anybody else.

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