Lokpal compromises investigation autonomy: CBI

The Lokpal Bill in its present form has not gone down well with the CBI whose officials feel that the investigation autonomy has been "compromised".

New Delhi: The Lokpal Bill in its present
form has not gone down well with the CBI whose officials feel
that the autonomy of investigation has been "seriously
compromised".

Voicing their reservations over the nature of the
anti-corruption bill introduced in the Lok Sabha yesterday,
the officials also said the demand for greater autonomy to the
central investigating agency which was the focal point of
Lokpal agitation has not yielded the desired results.
They are of the view that as per the provisions of the
present bill the CBI instead of gaining functional autonomy
would now be required to report to an additional authority.

"This multiplicity of reporting would be a grave
impediment in effective and efficient discharge of duties by
CBI. This multiplicity of supervision can be taken care of
only by providing more financial, administrative and legal
autonomy to CBI. The Lokpal alone should exercise general
superintendence in cases referred by them," a senior official,
who did not want to be named, said.

Top CBI sources feel that Police` powers to decide the
outcome of investigation and file police report before the
court must be protected.

"Section 20(7) of the Lokpal Bill provides for extension
of Police Powers of taking final decision after investigation
and filing police report in the competent court, to persons
who are not police officers," said another official.
He said this is against the provisions of 173 of the
CrPC which should not be dispensed with.

"The investigation agencies, including CBI, must
continue to exercise full powers to take a final decision and
file a police report before the competent court," he said.

CBI officials are of the view that the "process of
investigation, right from registration of FIR till filing of
police report, is one single continuous process and
prerogative of only the police, integrity of which needs to be
protected at all times to ensure quality and fair probe".

The senior officials are of the view that CBI could give
a status report to the Lokpal and CVC on the outcome of
investigation in respect of Lokpal and CVC referred matters as
is being done in cases referred to CBI by courts.

They said that a provision can be incorporated to the
effect that no court shall take cognisance of any charge sheet
against a public servant in a case referred by Lokpal or CVC,
except with the previous sanction of the Lokpal or CVC.

The agency wants Section 6A of DSPE Act must be repealed
with Section 23 (1) of the Lokpal Act which provides for
functional autonomy for registration and initiation of
prosecution is applicable only to for Lokpal referred cases.
"For cases taken up suo-motu by the CBI, the existing
requirement of prior permission under section 6A of DSPE Act
remains unchanged. The act needs to be amended to repeal this
provisions, as this is one of the major impediments in
pursuing investigations against public servants holding
positions of the rank of Joint Secretary and above," said an
official of the agency.

The agency wants that the timelimit for completion of
Lokpal referred cases should be increased as present limit of
six months is "unrealistic" because of complicated and
voluminous nature of cases, stay on investigation by courts,
probe abroad ?- delay in execution of Letters Rogatory, delay
in getting expert opinions, delays due to absconding accused
persons etc.

The agency feels that more autonomy should be granted to
CBI as dependence on government is the main cause for public
perception that CBI can be influenced and that its
investigations are not immune to government`s interference and
pressure.

"The Lokpal Bill does not propose anything substantial
which could have provided for complete financial and
administrative autonomy of CBI, thereby contributing in
dispelling this perception," said an official.

CBI officials are of the view that agency`s budget should
be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.

The agency feels that CBI director should be given
administrative and financial powers akin to the Secretaries
and should be empowered to induct officers up to the rank of
Joint Director.

PTI

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