In response to the Centre’s affidavit rejecting demand for greater autonomy

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday urged the Supreme Court to free the agency from being a “caged parrot.”

In its response to the Centre’s affidavit rejecting its demand for greater autonomy and vesting the CBI Director with a Secretary-level status, the agency said it is “merely asking for the administrative and financial powers of the Secretary, Government of India,” and not seeking any enhancement of legal powers, “nor is it an effort at self-aggrandisement for the Director.”

During the hearing in the coal block allocation cases, the court on May 8 observed that the CBI was acting like a “caged parrot” and asked the government if it intended brining in any law to provide the agency functional autonomy to insulate its investigation from outside interference. The Centre in its response rejected the idea.

The CBI said its proposal of the Director directly reporting to the Minister for the Department of Personnel and Training “is appropriate.” For, it would remove the present anomaly of the CBI, though not a DoPT wing, still being controlled by the Department, with its Secretary as the Reporting Authority for the CBI Director.

The CBI said it “does not want and has never desired an autonomy that would put it outside the government purview. All its submissions are directed towards the objective of greater operational autonomy. Even if the Director is granted powers of a Secretary, superintendence will continue to vest with the Central Government, as the final deciding authority will still be the Minister, and the Director would be merely assisting him.”

The CBI said, “There is no dispute that the police or investigating agencies must function under the administrative supervision of the executive. The only difference with the averment made by the DoPT is over the understanding that the CBI considers the Minister to be the Central Government whereas the DoPT considers it to be the Secretary, DoPT, or the Minister only through the Secretary, DoPT.”

The agency reiterated that the sole purpose of its seeking powers beyond what had been granted now was to make the Director more empowered to enforce and ensure a more professional, efficient, expeditious and impartial conduct of CBI investigations in sync with its motto “Industry, Impartiality, Integrity” and also to ensure the highest level of disciplinary and ethical conduct by CBI personnel.

Response to proposals sent to the DoPT for obtaining expenditure sanction for making payment to the State governments for setting up of special courts in Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Nagpur and Guwahati “is still awaited, despite a lapse of more than one and a half years, the agency said.

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