New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that even 15 years after it gave a judgement in the Vineet Narain case to insulate probe agencies from external influences, the issue is "really more serious" as CBI is still not out of control of political and executive bosses.
"Fifteen years on (after Vineet Narain) we are in bad position. There is complete breach of what Vineet Narain said. In first place, we have to liberate CBI from external influence so that we can completely take pride in CBI investigation," a three judge-bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said.
"We have to insulate CBI from political and any other type of interference. We have to undertake this exercise so that this premier organisation restores its position of impartiality," it said.
Though the minister concerned has the power to call for information generally regarding the cases being handled by the agencies, the authority is "subject to the condition that none of them would permit the minister to interfere with the course of investigation and prosecution in any individual case," it said while referring to relevant portion of the judgement.
"This (judgement) is being getting misconstrued vis-a-vis investigation. Will it not reconcile with the investigation and with the functioning of the government. Can in that situation, the minister have the power to give direction to the agencies?
"Will it not frustrate the independence of the investigation? CBI has to be impartial, free from extraneous consideration and sources and political influence," the bench said.
The landmark verdict had dealt with the specific powers of the minister to review the working of the agencies which are under his department.
"The minister has the power to give broad policy directions regarding investigation and prosecution of classes or categories of cases.
"The minister has that power to appraise the quality of the work of the head of the agency as well as other senior officers of the agency.
"The minister has the power to call for information regarding progress of cases," it had said.
It, however, said, "similarly, the minister`s power to call for information generally regarding the cases being handled by the agencies is not to be taken away.
"However, all the powers of the minister are subject to the condition that none of them would extend to permit the minister to interfere with the course of investigation and prosecution in any individual case and in that respect the concerned officers are to be governed entirely by the mandate of law and the statutory duty cast upon them."