'Release The Caged Parrot' : Madras High Court Directs Centre To Consider Making Separate Law For CBI; Ensure Its Autonomy

Aaratrika Bhaumik

18 Aug 2021 4:53 AM GMT

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  • Release The Caged Parrot : Madras High Court Directs Centre To Consider Making Separate Law For CBI; Ensure Its Autonomy

    "This order is an attempt to release the caged parrot (CBI)", the High Court observed while issuing a slew of directions for the independence of CBI.

    The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be made more independent like the Election Commission of India and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Notably, the Court directed the Central Government to consider bringing a separate Act giving statutory status with more powers and jurisdiction to CBI at...

    The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be made more independent like the Election Commission of India and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

    Notably, the Court directed the Central Government to consider bringing a separate Act giving statutory status with more powers and jurisdiction to CBI at the earliest. It may be noted that the CBI is at present constituted as per an executive notification under the Delhi Special Police  Establishment Act. The Gauhati High Court, in 2013, had quashed the said notification and held the CBI's formation to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court stayed the High Court order, which is still continuing (Read more about this here).

    Taking into consideration that the public reposes enormous faith and trust in CBI, the premiere investigative agency, a Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi passed a slew of directions and observed that the instant order 'is an attempt to release the "Caged Parrot" (CBI). "Caged Parrot" is a term used by the Supreme Court to describe the CBI in 2013. "CBI is a caged parrot speaking his master's voice", a bench headed by the then CJI RM Lodha had observed then.

    CBI lacks manpower, resources : High Court

    The Madras High Court's directions came in a petition filed by Ramanathapuram District Pathikkapattor Sangam seeking CBI probe into a chit fund scam. However, the Bench declined to refer the case to the CBI.

    The Court opined at the outset that despite the frequent referral of cases to CBI for investigation, there is a recurrent practice of CBI being unable to conduct prompt investigation due to a lack of resources and manpower.

    "When such is the trust and faith of the people, very sadly CBI is dragging its feet, whenever there is a demand for CBI enquiry on the ground that resources and man power available with CBI are very restricted and therefore, it cannot conduct investigations. This is the usual stereotype version/defence of the CBI before the Courts", the Court opined.

    Further enumerating upon the immense credibility of the CBI, the Court remarked,

    "An aura of reverence is attached to the name of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). There is always a clamour for CBI investigation." Whenever any sensitive, heinous crimes are committed and there is no proper investigation by the local police, there is a demand for CBI investigation and the said demand for CBI investigation is increasing day by day due to the credibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation. People revere CBI as a premier trust worthy agency, which could investigate the cases impartially and fairly and prosecute the case before the Court efficiently and properly"

    The Court vide its earlier order dated December 8, 2020 had taken serious objections to the CBI's inability to investigate important offences due to a lack of resources and had accordingly proceeded to pose a series of queries regarding the manpower, infrastructure capabilities, funds allocated when it comes to the investigating agency.

    Many CBI cases end in acquittal : High Court

    "Many cases which are investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, even serious cases, have ended in acquittal. It badly reflects upon the investigation of CBI. Hence, time has come to look into problems faced by CBI. Investigation of CBI needs to be improved by adding experts and modern gadgets", the Court had opined with anguish in its earlier order.

    On Tuesday, the Court directed the Central government to take a decision on the comprehensive proposal for cadre review and restructuring of CBI within a period of one month. This direction was issued in light of the submission made that a proposal dated September 9, 2020 for comprehensive cadre review and restructuring of CBI and for creation of 734 additional posts in different ranks is pending with the Central Government.

    "When there is a huge pendency in CFSL, either the infrastructure of CFSL has to be augmented or another CFSL should be established. Therefore there shall be a direction to the Central Government to enhance the infrastructural facilities available with CFSL in Ghaziabad, Uttarpradesh or to establish CFSL, zone wise, so that there would not be any delay in getting the opinion of the experts. The Central Government should establish at least one CFSL in each zone viz., South, East, West within one year", the Court further directed.

    Furthermore, it was observed that officials and staff should be independently recruited by the CBI and given proper training instead of depending upon the deputation from police forces and other forces. In this regard the CBI was instructed to send a comprehensive proposal to the Central Government for approval.

    Opining on the urgent need to augment the independence of CBI for the sake of impartial, neutral and credible investigation of cases, the Court made a reference to the observations made by the Supreme Court in Vineet Narayanan v. Union of India wherein it was observed that the "CBI is a caged parrot speaking in its master's voice'.

    "The said observation of the Hon'ble Supreme Court is fortified by the statement made by the CBI Director before the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Coal allocation case that a former Law Minister meddled with the statement of CBI filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court", the Court further noted.

    The Bench also opined that Constitutional Courts also refer various cases to CBI for investigation sometimes even without State's consent which indicates the immense faith that public institutions have in the agency. Accordingly, the following pertinent directions were issued in order to enhance the efficiency of the investigating agency.

    Directions issued:

    • Government of India is directed to consider and take a decision for enactment of a separate Act giving statutory status with more powers and jurisdiction to CBI at the earliest.

    • CBI shall be made more independent like Election Commission of India and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

    Separate budgetary allocation shall be made for CBI.

    • Director of CBI shall be given powers as that of the Secretary to the Government and shall directly report to the Minister/Prime Minister without going through DoPT.

    • Central Government shall make CBI independent with functional autonomy without administrative control of the Government.

    • CFSL shall have more modern facilities and should be augmented on par with the facilities available to Federal Bureau of Investigation in United States of America and Scotland Yard in United Kingdom.

    • DoPT is directed to pass orders on the CBI restructuring letter dated 09.09.2020 after consulting with other departments if necessary, within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

    • CBI should file a well thought out Policy within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, for permanently recruiting (i) Cyber Forensic experts and (ii) Financial Audit experts, so that all the branches/wings of CBI should have these experts available with them and not on case to case basis.

    • DoPT should clear all the pending proposals pertaining to CBI's infrastructure development e.g. land construction, residential accommodation, upgradation of available technical gadgets etc., within a period of six weeks.

    • CFSL attached to CBI should clear all the pending cases as on 31.12.2020. Similarly, other FSLs should also offer their Forensic opinion pending as on 31.12.2020 within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

    • The details of cases wherein charges have not been framed by the Trial Courts despite the charge sheets having been filed by CBI for more than one year, should be shared by Director, CBI with the respective Registrar Generals of the High Courts.

    • Since CBI itself has stated in reply to Para 'O' that CBI has to work within the constraints of shortage of manpower, Director, CBI should send another detailed proposal seeking further increase in the divisions/wings as well as strength of Officers in CBI to the Government of India within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order and Government of India should pass orders on the same within a period of three months of its receipt.

    Case Title: Ramanathapuram District Pathikkapattor Sangam v. State of Tamil Nadu

    Click Here To Read/Download Order


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