CBI unhappy over some Lokpal-related issues

The CBI wrote to govt expressing its unhappiness over various issues related to Lokpal saying many of clauses would severely impair its functioning.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2011, 00:37 AM IST

New Delhi: The CBI on Tuesday wrote to the
government expressing its unhappiness over various issues
related to Lokpal saying many of the clauses would severely
impair the functioning of the investigating agency.

In its letter to the Department of Personnel and
Training, the CBI said 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.

According to the letter, the agency at present 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 compulsory and if the
suggestions would be implemented, the agency will lose the
"surprise element" to carry out such operations.

The agency also cited lack of enthusiasm 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.

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," the letter said.

The agency also objected to certain other provisions
recommended by the committee which says that CBI charge sheet
or closure report must be filed after taking approval of
Lokpal saying this 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," the letter said.

The CBI was of the view that 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," it said.

"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," the CBI said.

The letter 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 CBI director 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," it said.

The agency also made a strong pitch for ensuring that its
legal authority and operational effectiveness are not diluted
when the proposed Lokpal becomes a reality.

Claiming that CBI is capable of handling the menace of
graft in the country, they said it should be the "natural
choice" for investigating corruption cases.

"In fact, this is the opportune moment to instill greater
functional autonomy into CBI while retaining its present
structure and independence," the letter said.

The officials said as prescribed by the Supreme Court in
Vineet Narain case, selection of director, CBI may be made
from a panel of serving IPS officers on the basis of
seniority, integrity and experience in investigation and
anti-corruption work.

PTI