Don't refer trivial cases to CBI: panel

NEW DELHI APRIL 9. A parliamentary committee has expressed its displeasure over the practice of the Government referring trivial cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

In its 98th report presented to Parliament on Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Home Affairs said: "insignificant cases should not be referred to the CBI".

The 43-member committee, headed by the senior Congress leader, Pranab Mukherjee, felt that insignificant cases frittered away the CBI's energy.

The Government should apply its mind in the matter and, if necessary, amend the relevant sections of the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act, 1946 so that routine cases referred to the CBI were not accepted.

Pointing out the recent arrest of an officer of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), a division of the CBI, for leaking information, the committee suggested that the Government introduce in-house surveillance system in the CBI. As on December 31, 2002, 183 cases were pending sanction for prosecution. Out of this 21 had been referred to the Central Vigilance Commission and six were being referred to the agency for advice.

Noting that the agency had taken steps to cut down delay in probe and monitoring the rate of disposal of cases, the committee felt that the rate of conviction, which fell from 71 per cent in 2000 to 69 per cent last year, needed to be improved upon.

"Considering the expanding role of the CBI in cyber crime, terrorist crime, counterfeiting of currencies and arms trafficking, it is obvious that unless the CBI disposes cases from both investigation and trial at the same rate of registration, pendency in both aspects is bound to be on the rise. It, therefore, recommends that the CBI closely monitor cases with it and increase the disposal level.''

The committee felt that by appointing an officer of the Ministry as Presenting Officer in cases of departmental inquiry, the impartiality of the investigation might be compromised.

The investigation by the Departmental Officer might weaken the process and it should be left to the CBI to appoint its own Presenting Officer. The committee favoured a simpler and quicker method of induction of personnel into the CBI.