Sunday, December 5, 2021
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Sunday, December 5, 2021
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Madras HC Rules On Autonomy Of CBI. Says Should Only Be Answerable To Parliament

The Madras High Court ruled on Tuesday that the Central Bureau of Investigation should be an independent entity answerable only to parliament. Arguing for the central agency’s autonomy and independence, which the opposition claims has turned it into a political tool in the hands of the BJP-led Central government. The court said, “The CBI should have autonomy as that of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who is only accountable to Parliament”.

In its 12-point instructions overhauling the current system, the court said, “This order is an attempt to release the “Caged Parrot (CBI)”.

During a hearing of the Coalfield allocation proceedings in 2013, the Supreme Court referred to the agency as a “caged parrot.” The BJP, which was in opposition at the time, accused the agency of being under the influence of the Congress-led government.

With the CBI forging ahead with investigations on a slew of opposition politicians in recent years, it has been accused of caving in to BJP demands. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of Bengal and the leader of the Trinamool Congress, has been particularly harsh, dubbing it the “Conspiracy Bureau of Investigation controlled by the Prime Minister.”

“The Government of India is directed to consider and take a decision for enactment of a separate Act giving statutory status with more powers and jurisdiction to CBI at the earliest… the Central Government shall make CBI independent with functional autonomy without administrative control of the Government,” the court said, noting that the agency’s autonomy will be ensured only if it is given statutory status.

The agency was established in 1941 and reports to the Prime Minister’s Office’s DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training). A three-member panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of the Opposition selects its director.

“The CBI shall be made more independent like Election Commission of India and Comptroller and Auditor General of India,” Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi said in their judgement earlier on Tuesday, hearing a petition seeking a CBI investigation into a Rs. 300 million ponzi scheme in Tamil Nadu.

“The Director of the CBI shall be given powers as that of the Secretary to the Government and shall directly report to the Minister/Prime Minister without going through DoPT,” the judgment further read.

The judges directed the Centre to “take a decision on the comprehensive proposal for cadre review and restructuring of CBI within a month” in response to the Centre’s opposition to the transfer of the ponzi scheme case due to a lack of manpower.

“Facilities for the premier agency have to be enhanced, so that it could be equated, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of United States of America and Scotland Yard of United Kingdom,” the judges stated, requesting a distinct budgetary allocation for the agency.

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