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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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JACOB G. Grossberg, deposing before the commission on graft and organised crime in 1933 in the US, said: “Politics is the business of the party organisation, party organisation is the business of the mercenary criminal, the racketeer. The political boss is usually the well-paid agent or manager for the latter, and the men he puts in office are usually puppets… the policeman on the beat or the plainclothes man does not bring in the big shot, whose gang controls his ward committee chief, who controls his captain, who controls him. It is the party organisation which furnishes the Governor, the Judge, the Prosecutor, and which gives orders to the police. In other words, it furnishes the law enforcing organisation. It is manifest that that organism suffers paralysis…and a paralysed body cannot function properly.”

In place of the word ‘police’ in the above quote, we can read administration in entirety. It is the administration in totality which is suffering from paralysis.

In this country we have specialised agencies in all the States and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the Centre. We must understand its dynamics before the crucial questions are answered. Corruption is a game and prerogative of people in power. Basically corruption is nothing but conversion of power (both political or administrative) into money. The anti-corruption organisation to be effective should be capable of taking action against persons in power but the bureaucratic functioning including these agencies suited the times of British rule where it was a master-servant relationship. The slave cannot question the actions of the master or disobey his orders.

Even an upright official, when faced with orders from his political masters, turn helpless in effort to uphold rules and values. He is seen to be disloyal as if loyalty is not to the system but to the individual. Even wise people have become players in this sordid drama. The investigative agencies do real good work, otherwise, but when it comes to exposing a person in high office, be he a political master, or a bureaucrat, they shake and tremble. They are used to functioning under the political masters’ directions only.

The rules and procedures under which the registration, the investigation, the enquiry or verification of criminal misconduct are to be initiated against the high and mighty, dissuade the agency and stonewall all the legal processes. The safeguards enjoyed by these persons offer near-immunity from any action by these agencies against those in power. This applies to the highest agency of the land, the CBI. It is a well-known fact that the CBI has to seek the permission of the Government for every step it takes.

Persons in power who indulge in corruption can be expected to make every effort to block the investigation even if some cases have to be taken up as a result of a public outcry. Investigating officers who function under these very masters keep weighing the political fall-out and consequences.

There are executive instructions overriding the laws of the land to seek permission for making enquiries, for registering criminal cases, for conducting searches, in case of persons beyond a certain level in office which reminds one of that strict warden who prescribed: “Nobody will move out of the hostel without my permission and be sure that permission will not be granted.”

The job of the agency is to find and collect facts in the most truthful manner without any consideration other than the law and without any fear, favour or pressure. The CBI or any other authority that may be created needs to be placed under a board of control. The job of the government is to maintain law and order which is not the job of the CBI. If taken out of the government’s control, the normal functions of the government will not be affected in any way except that corrupt public servants will not be able to indulge fearlessly into this all degrading nefarious activity.

The mechanism of appointment of the CBI control board (or whatever other name we may give to this autonomous high-powered body) should not be dependent upon any recommendations or a selection process. The members of the board should come up in their own right rather than being appointed and be beholden to anyone. The board should be headed by a retired Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court and include a retired Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and a former Director, CBI as members with the serving Director/CBI as its non-participating secretary. The term of each members and the Chairman shall be for two years. The Chairman shall have the same status, perks and salary as the Chief Justice/Judge of the Supreme Court and the other two equivalent to that of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. They should be removable only through the process of impeachment as provided for judges and the CAG.

The board will exercise all the operational functions of the Government in the context of all the CBI cases against corruption. The CBI board should be treated as appointing authority for all the suspects against whom the agency proceeds or proposes commencement of enquiries, investigations, and grant of permission for prosecution under the PC Act. The Government will cease to have any operational control over CBI. Since the position of DCBI will become very crucial, his appointment will also vest in the board and it will be a term posting. The rules governing him will have to be worked out in detail, but in brief, his term could be three years like the chief of a defence force. An IPS officer with a very good track record and having put in at least 30 years of service should be eligible. The Government of India could sponsor five to seven names but there will be no bar on considering other names by the board.

The board members and the DCBI shall be prohibited from undertaking any job under any Government or private sector, barred from following any business or profession after a term on the board and also there shall be no extension as a member of the board or DCBI under any circumstance. The status of the DCBI should be raised to that of service chiefs.

The above will free the chief investigating agency from undesirable extraneous controls and also from the allegations that it follows the dictates of political masters or that it acts to serve their political ends. It will restore the confidence of the people. The prospect of action against the high and mighty is going to deter and prevent the high-ups from indulging in unlawful activities.

*This article, as reproduced ,was published by the Hindustan Times on 1.3.96 when the Author was posted as Joint Director in CBI

The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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