Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday recommended a comprehensive legislation to make the Central Bureau of Investigation functional as an efficient and impartial investigative agency.
Delivering the 18th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture, Chief Justice Gogoi listed legal ambiguity, weak human resource, lack of adequate investment, accountability, and political and administrative interference as key concerns.
“The CBI should be given statutory status through legislation equivalent to that provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General. The legal mandate of the CBI must be strengthened by having a comprehensive legislation addressing deficiencies relating to organisational structure, charter of functions, limits of power, superintendence and oversight,” he said.
“Further, to address an increasing incidence of inter-State crimes, an argument could be made for including ‘public order’ in concurrent list, for the limited purposes of investigating such crimes,” he said, advocating administrative and financial autonomy for the CBI.
In the context of political and administrative interference, he said that in the Vineet Narain v. Union of India case, the Suprme Court had expressed concern over the state of affairs and laid down explicit guidelines for protecting the integrity of the force.
“However, given that the superintendence and control of the agency continues to, in large measure, lie with the executive by virtue of Section 4 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the possibility of it being used as a political instrument remains ever present. I have no doubt that there is more than enough strength within the organisation to deal with any such situation,” he said.
The Chief Justice said that time and again, the Supreme Court had utilised its constitutional authority to ensure that the CBI functioned without any fear or favour, and in the best public interest. As a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary investigative agency, it had for the most part of its existence enjoyed tremendous public trust, he said.
“Unfortunately, attention is more often than not drawn to failure than success of any public institution. True, in a number of high-profile and politically sensitive cases the agency has not been able to meet the standards of judicial scrutiny. Equally true is that such lapses may not have happened infrequently. Such instances reflect systemic issues and indicate a deep mismatch between institutional aspirations, organisational design, working culture, and governing politics,” he said.
Under the DSPE Act, the CBI required consent of the State concerned for investigation, he pointed out. “Given vested interests or bureaucratic lethargy, such consent is often either denied or delayed, severely compromising the investigation. Additionally, a patch work of legislations governing the functioning of the CBI adversely affects inter-institutional coordination, both horizontally and vertically,” he said.
Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa were among those who attended the event, which was organised by the CBI.