CBI opposes but PM proposes: independent agency to prosecute

Despite strong opposition from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED),PM Manmohan Singh....

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published: March 29, 2009 12:43 am

Despite strong opposition from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED),PM Manmohan Singh has given the go-ahead for the establishment of an independent Directorate of Prosecution at the Central level.

According to a note prepared last month by the Ministry of Personnel,Public Grievances and Pensions,the proposed Directorate will conduct,direct and control prosecution of cases. The Directorate,modelled on UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS),will reduce CBI and ED to mere investigating agencies.

The proposal says the Directorate will be headed by the Prosecutor General,to be selected by a panel headed by the Attorney General. The committee will include the Central Vigilance Commissioner,Home Secretary,Law Secretary,Revenue Secretary and Secretary,Department of Personnel.

The proposed Directorate will be housed outside CBI and ED,with the Department of Personnel and Training as its administrative department. As of now,the prosecution work in the CBI is being handled by the Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Joint Secretary-rank officer of the Ministry of Law.

But,disregarding the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee on Law,Justice and Personnel headed by Dr E M S Natchiappan,the government has decided to vest the power to launch prosecution after investigation with the investigating agency. The Natchiappan panel had said that the prosecutor,not the investigating agency,should have the power to decide whether or not to launch prosecution.

In its judgment in the Vineet Narain case,the Supreme Court had directed the government to establish an impartial agency to carry out prosecutions. At a January 11,2008 meeting chaired by the Minister of State for Personnel,the CBI director opposed the move to have a separate Directorate of Prosecution. The matter was referred to the Law Ministry,which didn’t agree with the CBI director’s contentions.

In 2007,while approving the extension in tenure of S K Sharma as Director (Prosecution),CBI,till July 31,2008,the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) ordered that the Directorate of Prosecution be established before the end of Sharma’s extended term. But last year,Sharma,who had superannuated,was appointed to the same post for one year.

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