Can’t give more powers to CBI, Centre tells SC

NEW DELHI (TIP): November 13 The Centre today informed the Supreme Court that there was no question of giving additional powers to the CBI Director. It said and allowing him to report directly to the minister instead of through the Secretary in the Department of Personnel and Training as this would possibly result in abuse rather than improving the functioning of the premier investigation agency. “Exercise of powers without adequate checks and balances would not be consonant with settled constitutional principles and would always carry the risk of potential misuse and may not be conducive to fearless and independent functioning of the organisation (CBI) at all levels,” the government said in an affidavit filed in the SC. “If the CBI Director reports directly to the Ministerin- charge of the administrative Department, the superintendence of the Minister de hors (sans) the institutional and organisational support would stand compromised and an independent layer of scrutiny would no longer be available,” the government said.

Contending that the “Secretary represents an independent, dispassionate and impartial layer of scrutiny aiding the minister-in-charge in effective discharge of his duty and superintendence,” the government said “in fact, functional efficacy may prove to be counter-productive if not exercised with due care.” The government has filed the affidavit in response to CBI’s demand for vesting its Director with ex-officio powers of a Union Secretary as part of efforts to make the agency function efficiently and more independently without political interference. The issue of CBI’s powers had cropped up during the hearing of the coal scam case by the Supreme Court. The CBI also sought powers to appoint prosecutors to pursue its cases in courts. Opposing this, the Centre said the SC had, in several judgments, underlined the need for keeping the prosecutors out of the control of the prosecuting agencies in the interest of justice as stipulated in the code of criminal procedure (CrPC).

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