The CBI could have escaped a rap on its knuckles from the Supreme Court had it accepted the government’s offer — made twice during the last five years — for setting up an independent directorate of prosecution to handle all its legal matters.
The government, atleast on two occasions in 2008 and 2009, had proposed to the CBI that a new directorate be set up with a separate budget and a team of lawyers to be headed by a director, who was to be appointed by a panel headed by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).
The government had proposed to name it the Central Prosecution Service, and for all administrative matters like the CBI, it was supposed to be linked to the department for personnel and training.
Had this proposal become a reality, the CBI could have prevented the major embarrassment it faced in the Supreme Court on Tuesday for having shared a draft copy of its probe report in the coal blocks allocation scam with the government.
This directorate would have ended the CBI’s dependence on the law ministry, since the proposal stated that the decision of this directorate was to be final in all legal matters of the CBI.
But the proposal did not find favour with two successive CBI chiefs during that period, who were opposed to losing control over the prosecution wing of the agency. Currently, the agency’s director of prosecution is a law ministry officer, who reports to the CBI chief in all matters.
Further, in matters of a difference of opinion between the CBI chief and director of prosecution, the final decision rests with the Attorney General.
The government proposal wanted to end government role in CBI’s legal matters, by setting up this directorate on the lines of the British Crown Prosecution Service, set up in 1985. “The British example proves the need for an independent wing to review and conduct the preparation and prosecution of cases investigated by the main agency to prevent any abuse and interference in legal advice and litigation,” stated the government’s internal note.