Govt to form judges' panel to look into CBI probe

Govt to form judges' panel to look into CBI probe

Govt to form judges' panel to look into CBI probe

In an attempt to insulate CBI’s probe from external influence, the government may form a panel of retired judges to oversee its investigations, according to the conclusions reached by the Group of Ministers (GoM) which will submit its report to the Cabinet on June 27.

The GoM which finalised its recommendations on the methods to insulate the agency from external influence on Monday suggested forming an accountability committee of retired judges to oversee the probes carried out by CBI, official sources said.
They said the recommendation along with other suggestions of the GoM would be placed before the Cabinet on June 27 where a final view would be taken on the measures suggested by the GoM which was chaired by Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

The GoM, constituted by the prime minister to consider the matter relating to an appropriate law being made to provide for the independence of CBI and its functional autonomy, has also agreed to increase the financial powers of the agency chief which was one of the demands of the agency for long time, they said.

“We have decided and that is fundamental principle of the Constitution that there should be no interference of government or any other agency in the probe carried out by the CBI or any other agency. We are committed to that. We feel that there should be accountability along with autonomy,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the meeting.

He said the group would move the Cabinet on June 27 for the changes that will be made “to ensure that there is no interference, whatsoever, in the processes of investigation” of the CBI either by government or by any other authority.
Once Cabinet clears changes proposed by the GoM, an affidavit will be submitted before the Supreme Court in this regard on July 6 which is likely to hear the matter on July 10.

The GoM also includes External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy.
In today’s meeting Khurshid was not present, sources said.

The government’s move came after the Supreme Court had indicted CBI for being a “caged parrot” of its political masters while hearing a case related to alleged irregularities in coal blocks allocation and directed it to make an effort to come out with a law to insulate CBI from external influence and intrusion. “...CBI has become a caged parrot. We can’t have CBI a caged parrot speaking in master’s voice. It is a sordid saga where there are many masters and one parrot,” the Supreme Court had said during a hearing on May 6.

The court’s observation had come following an affidavit from CBI Director Sinha who admitted to have shared a draft coal block allocation probe report with former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and two joint secretaries — Shatrughna Singh and A K Bhalla — in the Prime Minister’s Office and Coal Ministry respectively.

The GoM has met for three times and is not inclined to bring drastic changes in the functioning of the CBI, government sources said.

CBI, which is probing irregularities in allocation of coal mine blocks on the direction of CVC, has so far registered 13 FIRs in the matter.