After SC raps CBI, govt sets up GoM

FP

Following the Supreme Court's scathing observations last week on the CBI, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM), to be headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, to draft a legislation that will seek to shield the investigating agency from political and external influence.

Besides Chidambaram, the GoM includes Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Law Minister Kapil Sibal, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State, Personnel, V Narayanasamy.

"The Prime Minister has approved constitution of a GoM to consider the matter relating to an appropriate law being made to provide for the independence of the CBI and its functional autonomy," said an official release.

According to officials, the CBI and its director Ranjit Sinha will be asked to give inputs to the panel, which will finalise its findings within the next three weeks, before the next hearing in the Supreme Court on July 10. The GoM will be serviced by the Department of Personnel and Training.

Rapping the government, the Supreme Court had said the CBI was like a "caged parrot" of its political masters. It had asked the government to consider making an effective law to insulate the CBI from political intrusion.

The court made the observations following the CBI director's affidavit confirming that then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar had made changes to the CBI's status report on the coal blocks allocation case. "CBI has become a caged parrot speaking in its masters' voice. It is a sordid saga that it is one parrot with many masters," the court had said.

"Functional autonomy for the CBI will be the key factor in the exercise," said an official, suggesting that while the government will continue to wield administrative control, the agency will have freedom as far as investigation and operational issues are concerned.

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