Hours after the Supreme Court pronounced that its first exercise would be “to liberate the CBI from political interference,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley counselled the government to implement the recommendations made by his party to ensure the independent functioning of the agency.
In a statement circulated here, Mr. Jaitley recalled that he, along with two other members of his party on the Lokpal Select Committee, had submitted a note with many recommendations to free the CBI from the clutches of the government.
However, the committee accepted only some of the suggestions.
He lamented that the Union Cabinet had diluted or completely ignored several of the recommendations.
The committee was formed to hammer out a consensus on the provisions of the Lokpal Bill after the government realised that it did not have the numbers to see it through in the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha had approved the Bill.
The BJP members on the committee had recommended that the CBI would have a separate Directorate of Prosecution under a Director, who shall function under the Director of the CBI. The Director of the CBI would be the head of the entire organisation.
Further, the Director of the CBI would be appointed by a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. The Director of Prosecution would be appointed by the CVC.
The note had mooted that the Director of Prosecution and Director of CBI have a fixed term, as specified by the government and the power of superintendence of the CBI in relation to the Lokpal-referred cases vest with the Lokpal.
It had envisaged that officers of the CBI, investigating cases referred by the Lokpal, would be transferred with the approval of the Lokpal and for Lokpal-referred cases, the CBI may appoint a panel of advocates, other than the government advocates, with the consent of the Lokpal.
On the clash between the Attorney General and the Additional Solicitor General on the handling of the coalgate case vis-à-vis the CBI, Mr. Jaitley said to avoid such situations his party had suggested that the panel of lawyers who appear and advise the government be independent.
“They must be appointed by the Director of Prosecution in consultation with the Lokpal… The stature and dignity of the Law Officers has been gradually eroded. It has been compromised. Far from being constitutional advisers to the government or the court, they have become instruments of lego-political management on behalf of the government.”
Mr. Jaitley said that several Law Officers, appointed under the UPA government, had seriously compromised the dignity of their offices. The upright ones preferred to quit.
The BJP leader said the present controversy flagged the issue in relation to the independence of the Law Officers as much as it did that of the CBI.