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‘Release caged parrot’: Madras HC asks Centre to make CBI autonomous

Recommending that the CBI should only be accountable to Parliament, a two-judge bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi said: "This order is an attempt to release the "Caged Parrot (CBI)."

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 18, 2021 11:47:38 am
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Office in New Delhi (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Issuing a slew of directions to improve the functioning of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that the agency should be made an independent statutory body like the Election Commission or Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Bar & Bench reported.

Recommending that the CBI should only be accountable to Parliament, a two-judge bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi said: “This order is an attempt to release the “Caged Parrot (CBI).”

The Supreme Court had also described the agency as a “caged parrot” during a hearing of the Coalfield allocation cases in 2013.

“When such is the trust and faith of the people, very sadly CBI is dragging its feet, whenever there is a demand for CBI enquiry on the ground that resources and manpower available with CBI are very restricted and therefore, it cannot conduct investigations. This is the usual stereotype version/defence of the CBI before the Courts”, the High Court stated, Bar & Bench reported.

The court was hearing a PIL seeking CBI inquiry in an alleged chit fund scam. While the Court declined to transfer the case to the CBI earlier, given that an investigation by the Economics Wing was already underway, the bench decided to examine larger issues concerning the “necessity to have more resources and more personnel including modern infrastructures for CBI.”

In their 12-point instructions to change the existing structure of the CBI, the judges also proposed separate budgetary allocations for the agency. The court also suggested that the CBI chief should have powers equivalent to a government secretary. The judges also said the agency’s Central Forensic Science Laboratory shall be equipped with more modern facilities and must be at par with the facilities in agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the USA and Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom.

The court then directed the CBI chief to send a proposal to the Centre within six weeks seeking an increase in the agency’s divisions, wings and staff. The Centre has been directed to pass orders on the matter within three months of receiving the proposal.

Currently, the CBI reports to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under the Prime Minister’s Office. Its director is chosen by a three-member panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition.

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