Unhappy with autonomy offer, CBI wants more

Cbi

Not satisfied with the government's proposals to shield it from external influences and intrusion, the CBI Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it wanted its director to be on par with a secretary in the Central government and demanded more administrative and financial powers for the officer to insulate the agency in its day-to-day functioning.

The CBI, in its response to the amendments approved by the Cabinet to make the agency autonomous, cited several deficiencies in the Centre's stand on non-interference in investigations, giving a minimum tenure to its director, setting up an accountability commission to inquire into cases against its officers, engagement of lawyers, and involvement of the Attorney General at the investigation stage, among others.

Demanding complete independence in matters of investigations, it said that although it was agreeable to the government's authority while probing cases that are not about corruption, the CBI felt that sufficient financial and administrative powers had to be given to the director, along with a minimum tenure of three years to ensure "functional autonomy".

"As such, it is necessary that the director, CBI, should be vested with ex-officio powers of the Secretary to the Government of India, reporting directly to the minister, without having to go through the DoPT," the agency said, adding that financial powers equivalent to that of the DG, CRPF, were not enough and that it wanted a separate budgetary allocation.

The CBI claimed that this arrangement will ensure that its director is independent of its parent ministry as far as investigation is concerned and is accountable only with respect to administrative and financial matters. It also said that a committee, to be headed by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and including the Cabinet Secretary and CBI director, should decide the question of granting sanctions to investigate. Incidentally, a bench led by Justice R M Lodha had during the last hearing pulled up the agency, saying it would not allow the CBI to share with the political executive details of its investigation into the allotment of coal blocks under the guise of getting sanctions.

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