The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is struggling to find enough officers to run its operations.
With every third post of investigators in the country’s premier probe agency lying vacant, CBI’s desperate attempt to re-employ retired officers has hit a legal roadblock. The law ministry has shown the rule book to the CBI that could push its plan to tide over the staff crunch by a year.
Based on the opinion of its top law officer, Attorney General GE Vahanvati, the ministry has advised the CBI to “modify the rules” to permit appointment of retired officers on contract basis.
According to official figures, 502 of the 1,343 sanctioned posts of probe officers in the CBI are lying vacant. The CBI recently wrote to the department for personnel and training (DoPT), which deals with the agency’s administrative issues, seeking nod to hire retired officers.
Since the DoPT is currently being looked after by the PM, his office sought the law ministry’s advice on whether those re-employed on contract basis can exercise powers of investigation under the criminal law.
The Attorney General in his opinion stated: “As long as there is no bar in the constitution or rules, there is no infirmity in appointing a retired officer on contract basis to exercise the powers of investigation under the code for criminal procedure.”
But what adds to the CBI’s misery is his note of caution.
“I may point out by way of abundant caution that it would be advisable to modify the rules to permit appointment of retired officers on contract basis to suitably empower them,” Vahanvati said.
This is for the second time in recent days that the CBI attempts to reduce its workload has hit a wall. A similar attempt by the group of ministers (GoM) to tackle corruption, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, to form a panel to review graft cases probed by the CBI pending in trial courts for more than 10 years was snubbed by the Supreme Court. The CBI stated that a total of 7,157 graft cases investigated by it are pending in courts out of which 2,400 are more than a decade old.