CBI,NIA take a cue from FBI,give themselves special jackets

While doubts remain about their efficacy,officers say it gives them distinctive identity

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Published: October 16, 2012 3:16 am

A nominal image makeover or a much-needed exercise to give India’s investigative agencies a unique image? The verdict may be out but both the CBI and NIA are clear that they are going to stick with the jackets embossed with their names that they have taken to flaunting during searches or investigations.

The CBI’s jacket is blue and white,a first such dress code for the agency whose origins can be traced back to before Independence. Unlike police forces in the country,its officers were usually seen in plainclothes.

The new jackets first made an appearance a year ago as the CBI felt the need to “distinguish” itself from other investigating agencies. An exercise is now on to improve their design and quality,and the inspiration is the US’s distinctive FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) jacket.

According to CBI officials,jackets for the agency were first designed in 2011 by the Mumbai branch of the agency and no expert assistance from any designer was sought.

Later,the training department of the CBI at its Ghaziabad academy took over and ordered the jackets in large numbers for the agency’s staff all over the country. These were first used by CBI teams during raids related to the National Rural Health Mission scam in February this year.

“One CBI jacket costs around Rs 1,200 and it is being provided to all the investigating officers. Unlike police uniforms,the jacket does not differentiate between ranks and designation. Plainclothes led to anonymity whenever a team went for a raid,with many not taking our orders seriously. This jacket gives us a professional edge,” said a CBI officer.

The National Investigation Agency,set up after the Mumbai 26/11 attack,also takes its inspiration from FBI jackets. Its investigating officers have clear instructions to carry their jackets identifying themselves as NIA officials while visiting any spot or carrying out raids. During the 2011 Delhi High Court blast,these were a common sight.

However,the naysayers question the rationale for the jackets. Many officers both in the CBI and NIA feel that these serve little purpose and actually give away the identity of sleuths carrying out discreet work,inviting them unwanted attention and “posing a danger to their lives”. “We need to protect the identity of those who gather intelligence and those who act on it,” said an NIA official.

Some question the rationale that it will help guard against extortionists pretending to be investigating officers to extract money from victims. The CBI had recently released an advisory warning the general public against them.

“We have received a lot of complaints in which plainclothes men impersonating as CBI officials have duped innocent people. It is also for this reason that we decided to give a unique identity to the CBI. Every other organisation engaged in intelligence and investigation worldwide has a unique identity and there is no harm in developing one for the CBI,” said a CBI official.

However,as others point out,it could be just a matter of time before cheap imitations are available for a price in grey markets of Delhi and other cities.

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