The Supreme Court justified court-monitored probe in corruption cases on Tuesday, saying the need arises only after it comes across material indicating the investigation might be hampered with extraneous influence.
As a special bench headed by Justice RM Lodha pondered over whether CBI should take approval even before initiating an inquiry against a joint secretary level officer in court-monitored cases, the agency asserted the need for its “freedom from babudom.”
“The court does not want to take on the role of an investigator. But, when does the necessity of monitoring arise. Its only when the court feels the investigation would not remain uninfluenced by the executive. Such an influence cannot be by a second or third class employee, but, by a senior officer such as the joint secretary,” observed the bench, also comprising Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph.
It said the court was prompted to monitor cases if only it comes across material showing investigation may not be independent. “This is only when there is constant doubt in the mind of the court that the investigation may not be free and fair. If that is the route, then 6A (the provision under the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act mandating approval for inquiry) pales into insignificance,” the bench added. It reserved its verdict on whether CBI needed government approval before inquiring into the role of a joint secretary level officer in a court-monitored probe.
Meanwhile, the CBI put forth its proposal to vest its Director with ex-officio powers of Secretary and report directly to the Minister without having to go through the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
“We (CBI) need freedom from babudom,” said CBI counsel and senior advocate Amrendra Sharan, pointing out hurdles faced by the agency at every stage in its administrative functioning. The court has directed Attorney General G E Vahanvati to make a categorical statement in this regard.
Sharan further submitted the Centre was not agreeing to the CBI’s request to vest the Director with the power to appoint Special Counsel.