Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Madras HC says CBI should be autonomous like Election Commission, seeks to liberate ‘caged parrot’

"This order is an attempt to release the "Caged Parrot" (CBI)," the Court said.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday observed  that the CBI should be an autonomous body like the Election Commission of India.

The Division Bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice P. Pugalendhi made this observation while declining a petition seeking a CBI inquiry into the alleged chit fund scam of Rs 300 crore in Ramanathapuram district. “This order is an attempt to release the “Caged Parrot” (CBI),” the Court said.

“When such is the trust and faith of the people, very sadly CBI is dragging its feet, whenever there is a demand for CBI enquiry on the ground that resources and manpower available with CBI are very restricted and therefore, it cannot conduct investigations. This is the usual stereotype version/defence of the CBI before the Courts,” the High Court stated.

The Court opined at the outset that despite the frequent referral of cases to CBI for investigation, there is a recurrent practice of CBI being unable to conduct prompt investigation due to a lack of resources and manpower.

The decision further states that the CBI director should be empowered to report directly to the minister concerned and the prime minister with special powers like that of a cabinet secretary in government.

The Court noted that the demand for CBI inquiries in sensitive and heinous crimes is increasing by the day owing to the credibility and reverence attached to the agency.

It is further observed by the High Court that the CBI should be provided with modern facilities and technologies like the FBI of the US and Scotland Yard of the UK. The court has also said that the basic infrastructure, construction, living facilities and technical facilities for the CBI should be completed within 6 weeks.

The court has said that the policy decision on recruitment of persons having knowledge in cyber and forensic and financial audit should be taken within 6 weeks. Action should be taken to fill the vacancy.

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The following directions are given by the High Court:-

(1) Government of India is directed to consider and take a decision for enactment of a separate Act giving statutory status with more powers and jurisdiction to CBI at the earliest.

(2) CBI shall be made more independent like Election Commission of India and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

(3) Separate budgetary allocation shall be made for CBI.

(4) The Director of CBI shall be given powers as that of the Secretary to the Government and shall directly report to the Minister/Prime Minister without going through DoPT.

(5) Central Government shall make CBI independent with functional autonomy without administrative control of the Government.

(6) CFSL shall have more modern facilities and should be augmented on par with the facilities available to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America and Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom.

(7) DoPT is directed to pass orders on the CBI restructuring letter dated 09.09.2020 after consulting with other departments if necessary, within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

(8) CBI should file a well thought out Policy within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, for permanently recruiting (i) Cyber Forensic experts and (ii) Financial Audit experts, so that all the branches/wings of CBI should have these experts available with them and not on case to case basis.

(9) DoPT should clear all the pending proposals pertaining to CBI’s infrastructure development e.g. land construction, residential accommodation, upgradation of available technical gadgets etc., within a period of six weeks.

(10) CFSL attached to CBI should clear all the pending cases as on 31.12.2020. Similarly, other FSLs should also offer their Forensic opinion pending as on 31.12.2020 within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

(11) The details of cases wherein charges have not been framed by the Trial Courts despite the charge sheets having been filed by CBI for more than one year, should be shared by Director, CBI with the respective Registrar Generals of the High Courts.

 (12) Since CBI itself has stated in reply to Para ‘O’ that CBI has to work within the constraints of shortage of manpower, Director, CBI should send another detailed proposal seeking further increase in the divisions/wings as well as strength of Officers in CBI to the Government of India within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order and Government of India should pass orders on the same within a period of three months of its receipt.

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The Madurai Bench of the High Court has also said that the cases pending till December 31, 2020, should be completed soon. In this case, the court in its order has asked to file the report within 6 weeks or the CBI director has been ordered to appear.

Currently, the CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946 and the validity of CBI itself is under challenge before the Supreme Court.


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