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Interim Appointments for CBI Director

  • 07 Apr 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court told the government that interim appointments to the post of CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) Director cannot go on.

  • A petition was filed in the Court, objecting to the appointment of interim CBI Director following the retirement of the regular CBI director.

Key Points

  • Arguments of the Petitioner:
    • The government had failed to appoint a regular Director through the high-power selection committee of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition.
    • An interim appointment through an executive order was not envisaged in the statutory scheme of the 1946 Act (Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946).
    • Urged the court to direct the introduction of a mechanism to ensure that the process of selection of CBI Director is completed one or two months in advance of the retirement of the incumbent.
      • In this context, the petitioner referred to the case of Anjali Bhardwaj v. Union of India (2019) - related to vacancies at Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions.
      • In this case, the Supreme Court held that “it would be apposite that the process for filling up of a particular vacancy is initiated 1 to 2 months before the date on which the vacancy is likely to occur so that there is not much time-lag between the occurrence of vacancy and filling up of the said vacancy."
  • About the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI):
    • The CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
      • Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
    • The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964).
    • The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
    • The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.
    • It also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
    • It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
  • Issues in the functioning of CBI:
    • Legal Ambiguity: Lack of clearly demarcated spheres of functioning and overlapping areas of influence severely comprises both the integrity and efficacy of the institution.
      • Under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946, for conduct or continuance of investigation into offences committed within the territory of a state, consent of the state is crucial.
    • Weak Human Resource: Massive shortage of officers at the CBI may hamper quality of investigations and increase pendency, a Parliamentary panel said in the year 2020.
      • The panel observed that 789 posts in executive ranks, 77 posts of law officers and 415 posts of technical officers and staff were lying vacant.
    • Lack of Adequate Investment:
      • Inadequate investment in personnel, training, equipment or other support structures, adversely hampers professional discharge of duties.
      • High quality research and training are crucial for maintaining an effective modern police force imparting it with the operational ability to meaningfully respond to ever changing societal needs.
    • Accountability:
      • In the past few decades massive strides have been made in imbibing traits of transparency and accountability into public life and institutions.
      • Of equal importance is the need to maintain morale of the force by enforcing stringent internal accountability.
    • Political and Administrative Interference:
      • Given that the superintendence and control of the agency continues to, in large measure, lie with the executive by virtue of Section 4 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946, the possibility of it being used as a political instrument remains ever present.

Way Forward

  • There is a need to ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency. A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision.
  • There is a need to administratively protect CBI from political interference. For this to happen, the new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.

Source: TH

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