Parliamentary panel recommends law to allow CBI pursue graft cases
There is a "dire need" to provide statutory powers to CBI in dealing with corruption cases throughout the country without the states' concurrence, a Parliamentary panel has recommended.
"The Committee takes note of the opinion of the learned AG (Attorney General). But, it is noteworthy that a federal legislation, viz, The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 is in place, which provides for an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute certain class of offences," the panel said in its report tabled in Parliament yesterday.
"The Committee is of the considered view that a legislation may be proposed on similar lines, to give an effective statutory backing to CBI, which is a dire need of the hour, while taking care that the basic features of the Constitution are not compromised," it said.
The panel had sought the opinion of the Attorney General on whether CBI could launch prosecution on offences related to matters in the Union List of the Constitution.
The AG had then opined to identify the specific matters.
"It is not open to provide that the jurisdiction of the bureau (CBI) shall extend to whole of India and that prior consent of the states will not be necessary," the AG had said, adding that "in his opinion, this violates the basic federal structure of the Constitution."
The panel took note of the Attorney General's opinion, but suggested the government to consider the legislation close on the lines of the NIA Act, 2008 to authorise CBI to probe and prosecute graft-related offences only.
The Committee, in its report on demands for grants (2012- 13) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, also asked the government to ensure that CBI's modernisation plan should not be hampered due to budgetary constraints.
It took note of the deposition of the representative of CBI that the proposal pertaining to modernisation plan (revenue) – procurement of equipment or vehicles etc was not approved.
The panel noted that though the demand for Budget (Non Plan) was Rs 341.1 crore, only Rs 319.7 crore was sanctioned.
"The Committee strongly feels that shortage of funds should, as far as possible, not be a reason for delay in modernisation and upgradation of the premier investigating agency, whose mandate is increasing with the passage of time.
"The Committee is of the view that the Ministry should ensure that the efficient functioning of CBI should not be allowed to be hampered due to budgetary constraints," the report said.
It has also asked the government to form a committee without delay, to identify and review pending cases investigated by the CBI and to ensure their resolution.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee also noted "inadequate medical facilities" being provided to CBI personnel and sought a health care mechanism for CBI officers and staff close on the lines of those available to central paramilitary personnel.
"The Committee agrees to the fact that the CBI personnel are engaged in stressful work unrelentingly and that the medical facilities extended to them are inadequate...
It, therefore, recommended that the Ministry should put in place a healthcare mechanism for CBI officers and staff, on the lines of those available for paramilitary personnel on a 24x7 basis.
The panel has also approved a forensic evidence collection unit in every CBI branch for investigation and successful prosecution.
The committee also urged the government to expedite appointment of judges in the proposed special CBI courts.
"The Committee notes that 54 CBI Special Courts have become functional. The Committee would like to impress upon the Ministry to take steps to ensure that all the 71 Special Courts become functional and also to take steps to fill the existing vacancies of judges in the Special Courts," it added.