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Follow Rule Book, Stay Independent of Political Executive, Keep Low Profile: CJI’s Three Tips for CBI

By: Arunima

CNN-News18

Last Updated: April 01, 2022, 20:36 IST

New Delhi

The Chief Justice of India was addressing the country’s top police leadership on the occasion of the DP Kohli Memorial Lecture organised annually by the CBI. Pic/News18

The Chief Justice of India was addressing the country’s top police leadership on the occasion of the DP Kohli Memorial Lecture organised annually by the CBI. Pic/News18

He also said that there is an immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, to bring various agencies like the CBI, SFIO, ED, etc, under one roof

Follow the rule book, break the nexus with political executive, and maintain a low profile: these were the suggestions that Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had for officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday. Addressing current and former officials of the agency, the CJI started his lecture by saying, “I am happy to note that under the present leadership the organisation is maintaining a low profile, as it should be.”

The remark is significant as the agency had seen a lot of negative publicity after a clash between the then CBI director and special director in 2018.

The Chief Justice of India was addressing the country’s top police leadership on the occasion of the DP Kohli Memorial Lecture organised annually by the CBI.

In the audience were current Delhi police commissioner Rakesh Asthana, Intelligence Bureau director Arvind Kumar, former CBI directors, and top officials of various police organisations.

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The CJI was speaking on the topic of ‘Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigating Agencies’. He used the platform to highlight what he called the nexus of the police with the political executive.

“The need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust. The first step to gain the same is to break the nexus with the political executive," he said, highlighting that in the initial days, the judiciary was flooded with requests for CBI probes, but over the years the credibility of the organisation has eroded.

The Supreme Court famously called the CBI a caged parrot in 2013 for its inability to break free of the political executive.

CJI Ramana also put the onus on the police leadership to achieve the benchmark. He said often talented officials complain of harassment when there is a regime change. He said that in such situations, heads of organisations can make a difference. “My only wish, Mr Director, is that you abide by the rule book," he said.

The CJI also called for a harmonious relationship between state and central agencies. “Collaboration is the key," he said.

The remark assumes significance as more and more states ruled by rivals of the BJP, showing no confidence in the CBI, have been withdrawing general consent to the agency to probe cases.

On the issue of multiple inquiries, especially by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI, CJI Ramana proposed an umbrella organisation to prevent duplicity and delay in investigations.

He said there is an immediate requirement for the creation of an independent overarching institution, to bring various agencies like the CBI, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), ED, etc, under one roof. This body, he said, is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions, and jurisdictions.

“This umbrella organisation will end multiplicity of proceedings. A single incident these days gets investigated by multiple agencies, often leading to dilution of evidence, contradiction in depositions, prolonged incarceration of innocent," he said and added that this will save the institution from being blamed as a tool of harassment.

He signed off by asking organisations to work towards upholding democratic values and the freedom of people. “We Indians love our freedom…any attempt to snatch it has been resisted…police and investigating agencies should also uphold it. Political executive will change with time but you as an institution will stay on," he said.

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first published:April 01, 2022, 20:31 IST
last updated:April 01, 2022, 20:36 IST
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