CBI opposes accountability commission before SC

CBI opposes accountability commission before SC

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday opposed before the Supreme Court a proposed move to set up an accountability commission, contending that “outside” mechanism would compromise discipline within the organisation.

In an affidavit, the probe agency sought more financial autonomy and a minimum of three-year term for its director as against two years at present, besides the power to appoint its own counsel without approval from the law ministry.

The CBI response to the Centre’s affidavit on Cabinet-approved measures to grant it autonomy came on the direction of the apex court.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal ministry of the CBI, on July 3 told the apex court about its move to bring certain amendments to the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act to grant autonomy to the agency. The CBI submitted that the accountability commission would “disturb the chain of command” and “indubitably undermine the position of the director and other senior officers to maintain discipline.”

According to the proposed move, the accountability commission, comprising three retired Supreme Court and high court judges, would inquire into allegations of misbehaviour and impropriety by CBI officers. The senior-most among them would be designated the chairman and the CVC would be an ex-officio member of the commission. The chairman and members would enjoy a fixed tenure of three years.

At the end of every year, the commission would prepare a report which would be placed in both Houses of Parliament for consideration and directions.

“The CBI is of the view that creation of an outside accountability commission will have the tendency of compromising discipline within the organisation as disciplinary power will vest outside, albeit, indirectly. This will create anomalous situation wherein the superior authorities,” it said.

It asserted that need for such an initiative would arise only if the internal mechanism to identify and act against errant CBI officials were “inadequate.” The investigating agency was also not satisfied with its director getting financial powers equivalent to the DG, CRPF.

“It is necessary that the CBI director should be vested with ex-officio powers of the secretary of the Government of India reporting directly to the minister without having to go through the DoPT,” it said. The CBI said there should be a provision to extend the director of prosecution’s term of three years by another three years. It  wanted the power of writing an annual confidential report of the director of prosecution, vested with the CBI director, which could be reviewed and accepted by the law minister.

 “Reviewing of the same by the secretary of the law department was not tenable,” it said.

The probe agency also submitted that an exception was required to be made in Section 6 of the DSPE Act to obviate the need of the state government’s consent in matters regarding officials and employees of the Central government and public sector undertakings, working in a state.

“At present, only 10 states have issued general consent with respect to cases against officials/ employees of Central government. The remaining have not granted such general consent. In such states, the CBI has to seek the requisite consent on a case to case basis,” it said.

The apex court is likely to take up on Wednesday the CBI’s application seeking permission to share its status report into the coal block allocation scam with certain executives, including its prosecutors.

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