Giving free hand to CBI won’t be in ‘interest of justice

Days after a Bench of the Supreme Court said CBI did not require the sanction of the government to pursue a court-monitored investigation

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:August 7, 2013 4:13 am

Days after a Bench of the Supreme Court said CBI did not require the sanction of the government to pursue a court-monitored investigation such as the 2G case,the Centre on Tuesday argued that a free hand to CBI for investigating top officers “will not be in the interest of justice”.

Reluctant to trust the CBI,the Centre,while arguing in the Coal blocks allocation case,told a Bench led by Justice R M Lodha that the government must have a say since a sweeping directive by the court could prove to be counter-productive since it would not specify who the CBI could investigate.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the court that the validity of Section 6 A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (sanction to investigate joint secretary-level officers and above) was already pending before a Constitution Bench and hence it would not be appropriate to “break down” the legal provision in court-monitored investigations.

Unimpressed with his arguments,the Bench remarked: “The whole purpose of supervision of court is frustrated if the government is asked whether a particular person is to be investigated or not. We are surprised at your reasoning. If you favour autonomy for CBI,why cannot you obviate the need to give sanction? If you demolish the first step,how will you move to the second step?”

It asked the AG if a monitoring by a court was not a sufficient check against possibilities of arbitrary actions by CBI.

The AG agreed to examine a tentative suggestion by the court that CBI would need to approach the SC whenever it proposed to take actions against any public official.

Opposing any form of relaxation,advocate Prashant Bhushan,appearing for NGO Common Cause,cited the 2G Bench’s directives and also wondered what could be the Centre’s basis of apprehensions when CBI was considered to be the premier probe agency and its actions were subjected to checks by the Central Vigilance Commission as well as the court.

As the arguments remained inconclusive,the Bench adjourned the hearing for August 29.

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