CBI officials unhappy with Lokpal provisions?

The proposed move to make preliminary enquiry by Lokpal mandatory before giving cases to CBI will "severely impair" its effectiveness, sources said.

Updated: Dec 07, 2011, 17:45 PM IST

New Delhi: The proposed move to make
preliminary enquiry by Lokpal mandatory before giving cases to
CBI will "severely impair" effectiveness of the agency in
anti-corruption cases as it would lose the "surprise element"
to carry out search operations, sources in the agency said.
They said that at present CBI gathers information from
various sources and plans and executes a search operation to
collect documents and evidence but if the preliminary enquiry
by Lokpal is made cumpulsory, the agency will lose the
"surprise element" to carry out such operations.

When asked about the recommendations of the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill that all
complaints of corruption cases which are in the nature other
than trap cases shall first be scrutinised by Lokpal by
holding a PE, the officials of the agency were not
enthusiastic.

Officials said at present a PE is conducted only when the
available information or complaint about serious misconduct on
the part of a public servant is not adequate to justify
registration of a regular case.

"The mandatory provision of PE is bound to delay the
commencement of investigation process. The experience shows
that there are large number of cases in which element of
criminality is known right from beginning. Holding PE would
add no value but rather help the accused by compromising
witnesses and help in destroying evidence", a senior official
said.
Sources said in case it is decided to retain this
provision, it would be desirable, if it is categorically
stated that such mandatory PE will be done only in matters
initiated by Lokpal.

The officials also objected to other certain other
provisions recommended by the Committee which says that CBI
charge sheet or closure report must be filed after taking
approval of Lokpal.

They said such a proposal goes against the objectives of
the keeping the agency autonomous, not answerable or liable to
be monitored by either the administrative ministry or the
Lokpal and protect the integrity of investigation.

"This is also against the established jurisprudence on
the subject which provides the powers for taking final
decision after conclusion of investigation to the
investigating agency and even the courts do not interfere with
the process of investigation," a CBI official noted.

The officials were of the view that normally also all
police reports filed by the agency are scrutinised by the
courts which take a final call on them.

"This is also in contrast to the proposal to have a clear
cut division between investigation and the prosecution.
Instead it is proposed that, CBI may send periodical reports
to the Lokpal about the stage and outcome of investigation in
respect of Lokpal referred matters," another official said.

Sources in the agency said at present, power of taking
final decision after investigation is decentralised in the CBI
as officers of and above the rank of SP to the Director, CBI,
take decisions based on the rank of suspect public servants.

"Thousands of public servants are involved in Prevention
of Corruption Act cases investigated by CBI every year. It
would not be practically feasible for Lokpal to take decision
in every case. Further, this would cause considerable delay in
finalisation of the cases and commencement of trial," an
official said.

PTI