New Delhi: CBI has given a point-by-point rebuttal of the Centre`s proposals on its autonomy before the Supreme Court, strongly opposing the government`s suggestions on the appointment, powers and tenure of its Director.
In its 19-page submission, the agency said the Centre`s proposals were "contradiction to give functional autonomy" and "violative of very principles of natural justice."
The government in its proposal has rejected "pre-condition" of taking views of outgoing CBI Director in the appointment of its new chief.
It has also not agreed to increase the tenure of the Director from two years to three years.
The Centre in its affidavit dated August 2 had also refused to agree to CBI`s demand to give its Director status of ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India saying issues of parity had to be kept in mind.
"It is not desirable to create new precedence which would create heartburn and dissension among similarly placed organisation," the Centre had said.
According to the agency, "Taking views of outgoing Director in appointing a new Director is a statutory provision in existence (CVC Act, 2003). GoI wishes to take it away while terming it as precondition that is not acceptable whereas GoI agrees to incorporate the same by an executive order."
On the issue of tenure of the Director and process of removal, the agency is of the view that, "GoI does not preclude a longer term but does not intend to increase it by legislation. This view is in contradiction to give functional autonomy to the CBI.
"Removal of Director, CBI, without the involvement of the collegium that appoints the DCBI (Director, CBI) is violative of the very principles of natural justice," it said.
CBI said, "This is exhibited by the fact that at present, an IPS officer is inducted by a selection committee headed by the CVC and his repatriation or curtailment/extension of his tenure in the CBI is done by same selection committee and not by DoPT."
The agency has said in its affidavit that a close scrutiny of government`s proposal would show that it is silent on the suggestion of the agency on the issue of suspension of DCBI.
The proposal to give powers of appointing officers at the Additional SP, DySP and SP by Director, CBI has proved to be a battleground between the agency and the government.
The Centre wants these appointments to be done in consultation with the UPSC and MHA.
"CBI has never proposed obviating the need for consulting UPSC wherever prescribed. It is strange that a Director who is appointed by high-level and exclusive collegium is not trusted for impartial inductions of DySP, Additional SP and SP level officers," the agency has told the apex court in its submission.
It has also rebutted the government`s argument that "an all powerful Director, CBI without adequate check and balances would not be consonant with settled Constitutional principles and would always carry the risk of potential misuse and may not be conducive to fearless and independent functioning of the organisation at all levels."
The agency has said the argument based on so-called similarity between it and other organisations is fallacious and without any basis since the very appointment procedure of the DCBI makes it completely different and exclusive.
"The argument that by getting the status of Secretary, Director, CBI shall become all powerful is equally strange. As is known, every department in GoI is headed by a Secretary having all administrative and disciplinary powers subject to approval of the Minister concerned.
"It is, therefore, difficult to presume that they are unable to safeguard the interest of officers working under them. The position of the DCBI, if granted status of the Secretary to the GoI, will be no different," the agency contended.
CBI said, "It may also be mentioned that CBI is not asking for any additional enhancement of legal power to the DCBI and whatever is being asked is merely administrative and financial powers of the Secretary to the GoI that too when DCBI is already in the grade and pay scale of the Secretary to the GoI."
The proposal of the agency wanting autonomy in appointing a panel of special counsel without government`s approval was struck down by the Centre in its affidavit filed last week saying, "Any overriding powers of the Director over prosecution would compromise the impartiality."
The agency has contended that, "The proposal of CBI obviating the need for approval of Ministry of Law and Justice for appointment of Special Counsels/retainers should not be seen as empowerment of DCBI. It should be rather seen as a step to reduce dependence over the Ministry in such matters.
"It shall also mean compliance of the spirit of the directions of this court regarding independence of the CBI investigations without any outside interference," it said.