Central Bureau of Investigation Director Amar Pratap Singh on Friday came out strongly against any proposal to bifurcate the agency or divest it of its anti-corruption mandate.
In his welcome address at the inauguration of the 18th Biennial Conference of Heads of State Anti-Corruption Bureaux and the CBI at Vigyan Bhavan here, Mr. Singh said: “One of the draft bills for the Lokpal envisages merger of the anti-corruption wing of the CBI with the Lokpal. Given the composite nature of the CBI, which is its intrinsic strength, I am of the firm belief that such a proposal is neither practical nor advisable.”
Acknowledging that recent cases such as 2G and CWG and the subsequent introduction of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament have initiated a national debate on corruption, the CBI chief said it was the “opportune moment” to strengthen and functionally empower the existing anti-corruption agencies to realise their full potential.
Mr. Singh said in any effort to strengthen the mechanism to combat corruption, the CBI must be an integral and independent component.
He expressed his views frankly in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister Salman Khursheed, and Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayansamy.
The two-day conference with its theme “Corruption: Emerging Challenges and Responses” is being hosted by the CBI.
Earlier, Mr. Singh put forth the CBI's views in a presentation before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Congress Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Manu Singhvi, that was looking into different versions of the Lokpal Bill.
In the agency's view, both the civil society's Jan Lokpal and government's version appear to be “unworkable” and would weaken the enforcement of the anti-corruption regime in the country. On the proposals in the Jan Lokpal Bill, the CBI contended that it was a “composite organisation” and to treat its Anti-Corruption Wing as “severable” would be counter-productive.
Pointing out that the menace of corruption cannot be tackled through anti-corruption agencies alone, Mr. Singh said a multi-dimensional approach was required. He said the agencies faced major impediments.
“Section 6 (A) of Delhi Special Police Establishment [DSPE] Act, 1946 does not allow the CBI to conduct an enquiry or investigation into offences committed by an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary or above, without the prior permission of the government. There are also delays in getting sanction for prosecution, execution of Letters Rogatory and requests for investigation of offences committed abroad. Another major impediment is the delays in trial of cases. The CBI alone has 10,000 cases pending trial,” he said.
Mr. Singh said corruption at the grassroots, mostly affecting the lives of the average citizen, was a result of an imbalance in the demand and supply of goods.
“We have seen that with the improvement in service, delivery in certain sectors such as telecom, aviation and gas connections for households, opportunities for indulging in corrupt practices have greatly reduced. This shows that if we are able to cater to the daily needs of our citizens and also minimise their interface with the bureaucracy, we could insulate them to a large extent from the phenomenon of corruption.”