CBI autonomy can’t override rights of states: govt | delhi | Hindustan Times
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CBI autonomy can’t override rights of states: govt

The government is unlikely to take any step for giving more powers to the CBI which could affect the rights of states and alter the basic structure of the constitution. Nagendar Sharma reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 04, 2013 02:09 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The government is unlikely to take any step for giving more powers to the CBI which could affect the rights of states and alter the basic structure of the constitution.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister P Chidambaram, which is currently examining proposals for greater autonomy to the CBI, is set to maintain the government's consistent stand that independence for the agency cannot be at odds with the constitution.

The GoM, which will finalise the government's stand to be placed before the Supreme Court by July 3, is likely to state that it will take all steps to end its interference in the investigating agency's functioning, but within the limits of the constitution.

The consistent stand of the government since last four decades is based on the opinion of top legal luminaries like former attorney generals - late CK Daphtary and late Niren De in 1969 and 1970, both of whom opined that the centre cannot make a separate law for CBI.

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Their argument was that any such law will be detrimental for the rights of states since law and order squarely falls within their domain.

This view found endorsement in the opinion of current attorney general GE Vahanvati on CBI draft bill prepared in 2011. He stated, "It is not open to the central government to constitute a CBI and confer on it powers which will impinge all the powers of investigation of offences which are conferred to the state police."

On the query that can CBI be given powers which shall extend to the whole of the country and it will not require prior consent of states for investigation and prosecution of offences, the Attorney General replied, "It is not open to provide that jurisdiction to the CBI. Any such move would alter and violate the basic structure of the constitution and would disturb the federal character."

The government is set to propose changes in the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act 1946, which currently governs the CBI.

The changes could include financial autonomy and setting up an autonomous directorate of prosecution for the CBI. The government is also likely to refer to the Lokpal bill already passed by the Lok Sabha and pending before the Rajya Sabha, which provides for an independent panel to appoint the CBI director.