Centre ready to grant financial autonomy to CBI

Centre ready to grant financial autonomy to CBI

The Centre on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that it was ready to grant financial autonomy to the CBI, which was at loggerheads with the Union government, seeking ex-officio secretary level status for its director.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran submitted before a three-judge bench presided over by Justice R M Lodha that it has been decided to grant greater financial autonomy to the CBI. Without going into details, he also assured the court that other issues relating to grant of further power to the probe agency would be resolved soon.

The CBI had earlier sought for itself a “greater financial and administrative operational autonomy” on several grounds including that it would cut the delays on account of bureaucratic red tape. An affidavit filed by the investigating agency revealed that the CBI special director had to wait for over 100 days to get a laptop. Not only that, condemnation of an old mobile phone and purchase of a new one got approved after going through layers of scrutiny over 3 years, it had said.

A proposal sent to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for obtaining expenditure sanction to make payment to the state government for setting up of Special Courts at Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Nagpur and Guwahati was still awaited despite a lapse of more than one and a half years.

 These were a few illustrations given by the CBI in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, opposing the Centre’s resistance to grant secretary-level status to the director of the premier investigating agency. The CBI works under the administrative control of the DoPT.

The apex court is at present seized with the issue of grant of functional autonomy to the CBI. It had decided to take up the issue while hearing a bunch of PILs on coal block allocations scam. Meanwhile, Attorney General G E Vahanvati said de-allocation process for the coal block allocation made between 1993-2008 has been put on motion and the private parties to whom allocation has been made for 61 blocks has been asked by the Centre to clear deficiencies within four to six weeks for obtaining mining lease.

During the hearing, the court questioned the Centre over the functioning of the screening committee for allocation of coal blocks in which certain private companies were allegedly preferred despite not figuring in the recommendations by competent authorities.

In an application, the CBI sought the court’s permission to forward its proposal to the Home Ministry for issuance of Letters Rogatory (LR) to Malaysia for seeking information about a firm which is claimed to be a part of consortium of an Indian firm accused in coalgate. The permission was required in view of the apex court’s order of May 8, restraining the probe agency from sharing its investigation details with any department or person, it said.

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