Call for federal probe agency grows louder | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Call for federal probe agency grows louder

Even the NHRC favoured the creation of a separate category of “federal crimes”, which should be handled exclusively by a central agency like the CBI.

delhi Updated: Jul 31, 2008 00:41 IST

As India comes under frequent terror attacks, demands for a federal investigative agency are growing. Various committees and experts have long been insisting on the creation of a specialised agency like the US Federal Bureau of Investigation but the government has been dithering on a series of recommendations.

Even the NHRC favoured the creation of a separate category of “federal crimes”, which should be handled exclusively by a central agency like the CBI.

The step was necessary in view of the challenges posed by terrorism, drug trafficking and other organised crimes with national and international ramifications. This was stated by the NHRC in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court which had sought its view on the issue.

Listing about 65 offences under 15 separate Acts to be made “federal crimes”, the NHRC said, “The CBI, which is already investigating some such cases after obtaining the concurrence of the state governments, may be entrusted with the responsibility of investigating federal crimes whenever the gravity…of the offence so demands.”

A parliamentary panel report, which supported the NHRC view and recommended the setting up of a specialised Anti-Terrorism Division in the CBI, has been gathering dust for over four months.

In its report tabled in Parliament on March 11, the committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law, said: “The CBI should be the nodal agency…It has to be allowed to work in close coordination with the intelligence agencies and then there has to be an automatic switchover, in which it works alongside the state police for prevention of attacks.”

It recommended a fresh law to “rectify the present situation”, which does not allow the CBI to directly take up terror-related probes as law and order is a state subject under the Constitution.

However, former Director General of the CRPF Prakash Singh, who has been fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court for police reforms and a federal agency, did not agree. “There is no need for any amendment to the Constitution. Acts of terror cannot be termed as a law and order problem. It is very well covered under Entry – 1 of the Union List in the Seventh Schedule (Defence of India),” Singh said. He added that amending the CBI’s charter would suffice.

Former IB chief Ajit Doval said a political will is required to counter terrorism. “What India needs is a federal counter-terrorism agency, which would integrate intelligence gathering and investigation. The new agency just requires a sanction of Parliament and I don't think any political party would oppose it.”