The Centre on Friday disagreed with the CBI Director’s view that a committee should decide on grant of sanction for investigation or prosecution of a CBI officer.

“It is the administrative ministry,” the government reasoned, “which has the best domain knowledge to take a clear view on the involvement of an officer in any given set of circumstances.”

It was responding to the CBI’s demand for more autonomy in its affidavit in the ‘coal case.’

“Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act relating to sanction is a stage before any inquiry against the officer has commenced. A committee of external agencies would have to depend in any case on the inputs from the ministry,” the Centre said.

“Moreover, committee system will add one more layer of decision-making and is likely to cause more delay. Therefore, it is the administrative ministry which is in the best position for according approval for investigation or inquiry, within the shortest possible time limit. This should not be substituted by a committee as proposed by the CBI Director. Also, inclusion of the CBI Director in the proposed committee would create conflict of interest and would not be in consonance with principles of natural justice...”

On the plea for a three-year tenure for the CBI Director, the Centre said: “A minimum of two years… has been mandated by this court in the Vineet Narain judgment, and it does not preclude a longer term, if necessary.”

It, however, said it would positively consider the proposal for the agency head to take up a job after retirement. “To make the CBI Director ineligible merely for re-employment may not contribute to either autonomy or impartiality.”

Responding to the CBI’s plea for excluding difference of opinion between the Director of Prosecution and the CBI Director at the stage of investigation from the purview of reference to the Attorney-General, the Centre said putting the DoP under the CBI Director would compromise the impartiality of the prosecution agency.

The Centre rejected the agency’s proposal for an internal vigilance mechanism. Justifying the formation of an accountability commission, it underscored the need for an external, independent and strong watchdog and added the CBI’s reservations about such a body were untenable. An external body, the Centre said, “will instil discipline in the CBI.”

The case comes up for further hearing on August 6.

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