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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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Erosion of CBIs Credibility - Sankar Sen, IPS

Senior Fellow-Institute of Social Sciences
Former Director General National Human Rights Commission
Former Director - National Police Academy

Move of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to close criminal proceedings against Ottavio Quattrocchi, has drawn flak from the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi. He criticized CBI's role in the investigation of the case against Quattrocchi and questioned its decision to approach Interpol for removal of the red corner notice against Quattrocchi before obtaining court's permission for withdrawal of the case against him. Increasingly, CBI is losing credibility before the public as an independent investigating agency. This is a singularly unfortunate development that will seriously impede any meaningful efforts to combat corruption. The CBI was set up under the Delhi Police Establishment Act (DPEA) in 1946.During its early years, the organisation, under able and upright Directors, like D.P. Kohli, F. Arul enjoyed enviable reputation for transparency and professional competence. It selected its officers carefully and brooked no interference in its work. For IPS officers, deputation to the CBI was a prestigious assignment and they could function free from the pulls and pressures of the state politicians. Decline of CBI and erosion of its credibility started during Emergency. The organisation became politicized. The Shah Commission of enquiry which looked into the excesses perpetrated during the emergency severely indicted the role of the CBI in a number of cases. In some cases, it came to light that it was acting malafide and had become an instrument of harassment of innocent people. The then Director CBI D. Sen was an officer of great professional competence and inspired fear and awe from the sub-ordinate staff. But he capitulated before the baleful pressures exerted by all powerful Sanjay Gandhi and his cronies and besmirched irretrievably the reputation of the organisation. Shah Commission deplored the politicization of the organisation and said that the fairness and objectivity which an organisation functions would in the ultimate analysis depend upon the extent to which the higher executives of the organisation are allowed to function freely and objectively and at the same time ensuring their accountability to statutorily constituted bodies. One of the main reasons for erosion of credibility of the CBI is political interference in its investigative functioning Section 4 of the Delhi Police Establishment Act provides that CBI must function under the "superintendence" of the central government. Superintendence does not control or interference in the investigation conducted by CBI. In the case of Vineet Narain (1998) the apex court held that Section 4 cannot be construed so as to prevent actual supervision of the investigation of an offence by the CBI and the central government is precluded from issuing any direction in the CBI to curtail or inhibit its jurisdiction to investigate into offences. Unfortunately, CBI has been functioning under successive central government, as eminent jurist Fali Nariman has put it, "not by notes on files but on nods or winks' of the minister or the senior bureaucrats in charge of the administrative ministry. In cases of alleged corruption in the conduct of Commonwealth Games and handling up 2G spectrum by A. Raja, former Minister of Telecommunication, and the CBI moved with disturbing slowness in taking necessary steps such as raids of houses of the officers and suspects, freezing their bank accounts, and their interrogation etc. The public cannot be blamed if it draws adverse inferences .Now it has been directed to investigate the 2G Spectrums case under the supervision of the apex court. Unfortunately in Vineet Narain's case (better known as Hawala case) even under Court's scrutiny investigation was so inadequate that charges could not be framed by the trial courts against the accused persons. Indeed, much depends upon the mettle of the Director of the organization. He should be able to stand firmly against the nods and winks of the political masters. Now secure tenure of two years after selection as the Director, as enjoined by the court, gives him some elbow room. It is also the responsibility of the government to ensure, as the Shah Commission recommended, that organizations like the CBI are led by competent self-respecting individuals, who are known for their appreciation of values and concern for the interests of the country and its citizens. Lesser men as heads of such organisation would only be a disaster. Even now without extraneous interference the CBI has done laudable investigation in cases relating to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991, and Mumbai's blasts of 1993 and in many other cases. Its performance has been acclaimed by all. To restore the credibility of CBI and make it an effective instrument for combating corruption. There should be a comprehensive enquiry into the functioning of the CBI by an eminent professional of untarnished reputation or by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. The recommendations of such a committee have to be implemented in letter and spirit. At present the annual reports of the working of the CBIs hardly figure in debates either in public or in Parliament. The CBI has to be insulated from extraneous pressures and made really independent. This has to be done by law expressively enacted by the Parliament. For this there are models in other countries which can be suitably adapted. There are suggestions that Director, CBI, like CAG, could be given an independent constitutional status. Another alternative is to keep CBI under the Parliamentary control. The Parliament would oversee the functioning of the CBI either directly or through a committee. The CBI on the pattern of the Australian model could be made accountable and answerable to this committee, as adapted to Indian conditions. Nearer home, Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) set up in Hong Kong has done a remarkable job in reducing corruption and enabling Hong Kong to break out of its corruption trap. The government indicated its commitment by appointing a person of unimpeachable integrity as the Chairman and prosecuting some big fish. There is need for strong political will to make CBI independent, apolitical and effective. Another factor sapping the efficiency of the CBI is that its charter has been widened to deal with various other forms of crime not connected with corruption. It is saddled with all kinds of cases that have nothing to do with corruption. The strength of the CBI in order to make it an effective instrument has to be substantially augmented. In 1996, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had 11,400 investigating officers while the CBI had only 1031.The Independent Commission against Corruption (ISAAC) whose activities are confined only to Hong Kong had as many as 684 investigators in its rolls. At present, CBI refuses to take over many cases but later on has to accept some of them either under court's orders or under the pressure of public opinion. CBIs effective functioning suffers also because of constraints beyond its control. Monthly crime reports of CBI for the month of September, 2010, indicate that on 30.09.2010 as many as 9895 cases are pending for trial. Age wise profile of the cases is the following.

years >2 years-5 years> >5 years-10 < years >10 years-< 15 years >15 years &<20 years >20 years Total cases pending under Trial
2284 2475 2896 1190 645 405 9895
Source: Monthly Crimes Report of CBI of September 2010
Again a number of cases are pending for prosecution sanction. As many as 108 cases are pending with Central Government Departments /authorities and 24 cases pending with State governments for sanction. Prosecution sanction was ostensibly meant for a check against non appreciation of departmental procedures by an investigating agency or the court .So the department was given the discretion. But the influential and the forceful can manage its denial (as shown in the case of P.J. Thomas) and frustrate the ends of justice. This provision needs to be removed from the statute.

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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