The former CBI director, R.K. Raghavan, on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court ruling that High Courts and the Supreme Court could order a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into a cognisable offence without the State’s consent.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Ahmedabad, Mr. Raghavan, who heads the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 Gujarat riots case, said: “It is a shot in the arm for all those who want impartial investigations for major crimes free from the biases and prejudices one associates with the State police agencies.”

He said the CBI brought an impartial angle where major occurrences were concerned and where the public feel “the State police force will not do an objective job.”

Noting that the State governments had been objecting to courts ordering CBI probes without their consent as Police was in the State List in the Constitution, Mr. Raghavan said the Supreme Court had looked into the issue carefully and had come up with the ruling for the first time.

But he pointed out that the CBI, with its limited resources, was sometimes overburdened with victims calling for CBI investigations like a “mantra” and the judiciary “buckling under pressure.” He said there was the problem of indiscriminate rulings ordering investigations.

“There are two points which emerge from this ruling. First, it establishes the rights of the Supreme Court and the High Courts ordering investigations without consent of the State government. Second, it sends out a signal to the lower judiciary that it cannot order suo motu such investigations. This right vests only in the Supreme Court and High Courts,” he said. Mr. Raghavan also expressed the hope that the Supreme Court and the High Courts would be more selective than before in ordering their investigations and that overall the quality of work done by the CBI would improve as a result of the ruling.

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