Stung by the judiciary’s repeated interventions and criticism on the legal status of the CBI and rules governing it, the government plans to end the confusion created by multiple laws dealing with the investigating agency.
Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which has administrative control over the CBI, has asked the law ministry for a “legally tenable solution” to problems regularly encountered by the investigative agency.
As a first step, the DoPT wants the entire reference about the CBI to be removed from the Lokpal bill passed in the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011 — currently pending before the Rajya Sabha.
The Lokpal bill provides for the appointment of the CBI director by a collegium headed by the Prime Minister.
The leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge would be the other members of the panel.
The bill also seeks to appoint senior CBI officials of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above on recommendations of a high-level panel headed by the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
The changes in the existing procedure for the appointment of the CBI chief and senior officers were proposed through amendments in the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act 1946, which according to the government is the law for governing the CBI.
Officials say the government has the option to delink the amendments in the DSPE Act from the Lokpal bill and move these separately in the Rajya Sabha.
On being passed there, the amended law will result in freeing the top-level CBI appointments from the government’s control, a commitment for which was given by the government in the Supreme Court in July.
The government proposes to update the 67 year-old DSPE Act with fresh provisions and explanations required to remove the confusion related to CBI’s functioning, but is still silent on whether it has outlived its utility and the agency is justified in demanding a new law in its place.
Latest changes are likely to include the appointment of CBI’s top law officer, the director prosecution, through a transparent procedure for a fixed tenure of not less than two years.
It also proposes to provide a legal backing to commitments given by the government in the SC on financial autonomy and non-interference in cases being probed by the CBI.