Let Parliament decide on autonomy to CBI, says Supreme Court

CBICBI director Ranjit Sinha (PTI Photo)

After calling the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a caged parrot, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that law will have to be amended to make the body autonomous.

Taking up the government's affidavit on CBI's autonomy, the apex court said that the Parliament should debate the suggestions put forward by the Centre in its affidavit. After all the Parliament will enact law, the court said.

A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha expressed satisfaction that Centre has taken steps for bringing amendment in law for making the agency autonomous and insulate it from extraneous influences.

"There is some positive beginning," the bench said.

Listing measures to insulate the CBI from external influences and intrusion, the Centre on July 3 had told the Supreme Court that the CBI director will be appointed on the recommendation of a three member-panel - headed by the Prime Minister and including the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or a nominated judge - for a period of "not less than two years".

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The government, in its affidavit, had said the CBI director shall not be transferred without the consent of the selection committee. It had also proposed that only the President would have the authority to remove or suspend the director, on a reference by the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) of his "misbehaviour or incapacity".

The affidavit had said while the CVC will have the power of superintendence and administration over the CBI for the cases to be probed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Centre will be vested with the power in other matters.

"We can wait for the exercise to be done. When the government comes out with amendment in Parliament then there would be flow of opinion from its members. Let the Parliament debate on it and then we will look whether it fulfils the objective of making CBI autonomous. We should wait a little," the bench said.

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