Centre opposes plea for Secretary's powers to CBI Director

Last Updated 29 October 2013, 16:10 IST

The Centre today vehemently opposed in the Supreme Court CBI plea that its Director be vested with ex-officio powers of Secretary for overcoming "red tapism" in bureacracy and attaining functional autonomy.

The agency said the Union governments in the past and even present want CBI in its control and to keep a strong hold over it.

However, the Centre strongly opposed CBI stand, saying granting ex-officio powers of Secretary to the Director will go against the spirit of the Vineet Narain judgement as there is a difference between functional autonomy and financial autonomy.

"I strongly oppose," Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told a bench of justices R M Lodha, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, which, in turn, asked the Centre to file its written response within two weeks.

"Goverment is not aggreable to it. They must be having valid reasons," the bench said while taking note of SG's submisisons that the Centre does not want to go overboard and that enough power has been given to the CBI for its functional autonomy.

Citing the Vineet Narain case, senior advocate Amrendra Sharan, appearing for CBI, said, "All (Central) goverments, be it United Front, NDA or the UPA, want to control CBI. The effort is to keep the control and strong hold over CBI. The power of the Secretary will only help us to bypass the red tapism and attain functional efficacy... We are accountable to the court and the government."

He said there have been occasions when well thought out proposals given by the CBI have been returned by desk officers and gave an example of appointment of 22 public prosecutors which has not yet been cleared.

"This kind of red tapism we face," Sharan said, adding that "functional efficacy is of utmost importance".

While the Centre was opposing CBI plea, the bench said, "what is requested is that the Director be permitted to report to the minister directly and not through the bureaucracy. It does not want checks."

CBI, one of the whose pleas to add one more officer in the 39-member strong investigation team was allowed, said the power of Secretary would enable its Director to "bypass" the babudum and report and meet the Minister concerned directly.

Earlier, CBI, after being termed as a "caged parrot" by the apex court, had said that it needed to be freed from the clutches of bureaucracy.

The road blocks are still there on its way to attaining functional autonomy as the Centre was averse to vesting its Director with ex-officio powers of Secretary which would ensure independent working of the agency, it said.

(Published 29 October 2013, 16:04 IST)

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