Give secretary-level rank to CBI chief: Supreme Court

It would enable CBI director to obviate bureaucratic set-up,the court said.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: September 11, 2013 1:21:00 am

The Supreme Court Tuesday favoured a Union secretary-level rank for the Central Bureau of Investigation director to enable him “obviate bureaucratic set up”,even as the agency raised pitch for “ freedom from babudom” but the Centre expressed reluctance to accept its demand.

“He (director) must be given the rank of a secretary in the central government so as to obviate bureaucratic set-up and so that all his communications are directly sent to the minister concerned,” said a Bench led by Justice R M Lodha during a hearing on coal blocks allocation case.

The court’s observation came as senior advocate Amarendra Sharan,appearing for the CBI,complained that the agency was constrained to function under a “stranglehold” of bureaucrats and proposals sent by its director were often returned by a “head clerk” of the department with 20 objections.

“So what kind of parity you have with a secretary in the government? Is it only decorative?” retorted the court after noting that the CBI director was equal with a secretary only in terms of salary and perks.

The Bench,also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph,then asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati if the government was willing to consider the CBI’s proposal to give its director a secretary-level rank.

The AG said there were a series of objections in adorning the director with the rank. However,as the court clarified it would want the CBI director unshackled from bureaucratic hassles,the AG said he would need two weeks to consult the authorities and get back on giving him the secretary-level rank and also allowing him to engage special counsel.

On other issues relating to administrative reforms which the CBI and the Centre had agreed upon,Vahanvati said the DoPT would issue necessary directives on preparation of ACRs of Director of Prosecution and law officers.

The Bench also asked the AG as to why Parliament failed to take up the proposed Bill on granting autonomy to the CBI in the monsoon session.

“What happened to the proposed amendments for the CBI’s autonomy? Parliament had taken so many Bills in the last session. Obviously,it was as important as any other Bill,” said the court as it questioned the AG if it was tabled or not. While Vahanvati said he was not sure,other counsel told the Bench that the Bill was not tabled. “In these circumstances,we will have to pass some orders,” said the court.

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