Bring law to make CBI independent, else we will: SC to Centre

Central Investigation Bureau

Central Investigation Bureau

Tags : CBI, Justice R M Lodha, Supreme Court

New Delhi, May 8 – The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to make efforts to bring some law for ensuring the CBI’s independence and to insulate it from external influence, before any such exercise is undertaken by the court.

“We would like the law to be in place before the next date of hearing on July 10. We know that Parliament will not be in session, but there are ways to do it,” a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said.

“The best thing would be that the law would be in place in between when we hear the matter again,” the bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph observed.

It said, CBI has to be “non-partisan” by law and an impartial agency.

“The golden day would be if the law is in place and we hope this to be before the next date of hearing,” the bench observed before concluding the day’s hearing.

The court noted that a query was put in this regard to Attorney General G E Vahanvati, who submitted that he will seek instructions from the government and will report to the court on the next date of hearing.

“We wanted to know from Attorney General whether Central government intends to bring some law to ensure independence of CBI, its functional autonomy and insulation from external influence with a view to make CBI a non-partisan agency.

“This query was put to AG as we thought before any exercise is taken by us with regard to ensuring CBI functions effectively and efficiently and independently, particularly with respect to investigation of criminal cases entrusted to it, whether any law in this regard is contemplated,” it said.

During the day’s proceedings, the court had observed that the country as a whole is “virtually in a worse situation” than what it was like 15 years back in 1997-98.

It said the “first task to be undertaken”, in light of the events taking place, is to ensure the independence of CBI and to insulate it from external interference and intrusion and asked the Centre whether it intends to enact a law in furtherance of the same.

The bench said the court “may not take this particular exercise if the government gives us assurance” that such a law will be put in place.

The apex court observed that while “giving unbridled power to an investigating agency is dangerous as it would be a unruly horse, but CBI is like a caged parrot.”

“We can’t have CBI a caged parrot speaking in master’s voice. It is a sordid saga where there are many masters and one CBI,” the bench said.

The court also said that while the CBI is under the superintendence and administrative control of the government, its investigation aspect “is not to be touched”.

“Investigation aspect is not to be touched by government and there has to be a law on this aspect. If there is no law, we have to undertake this exercise,” the court warned.

The Attorney General had expressed his agreement with the court’s views and said that he will seek instructions from the government regarding what its plans for ensuring Independence and autonomy of the CBI vis-a-vis its investigative powers. PTI


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