Famously tagged a “caged parrot” by Supreme Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may finally be getting close to its dream of autonomy.
Attorney general GE Vahanvati on Wednesday told the court the government has granted greater financial autonomy to the director of the premier probe agency. “He is very happy with it,” he told a special bench headed by justice RM Lodha.
HT had reported Tuesday that at a meeting last week between CBI director Ranjit Sinha and the secretary (personnel), the government had substantially enhanced the chief’s financial decision-making powers.
“Now every proposal need not go through junior officials in the (personnel) ministry,” Vahanvati told the bench. Also, the CBI chief can write directly to the secretary in matters of investigation where the intervention of the ministry of personnel, the administrative ministry of the agency, is required, the AG added.
Earlier, the file had to go to junior officials of the section concerned.
“From now on, the secretary will record his views on the file sent by the director and return it, cutting down decision-making time,” said a senior CBI official.
The official added that though the CBI director’s greater financial powers still did not compare to those of a secretary to the government, the agency was satisfied.
Under these new financial powers, the director can approve planned expenditure to the tune of Rs. 15 crore. Earlier, the amount was negligible. The director can also approve expenditure up to Rs. 50 lakh for buying laptops and mobile phones for agency officials without prior sanction of the ministry.
He can get documents translated, hire consultants for up to Rs. 10 lakh per case and make advance payments of up to 80% of the full disbursement to a government agency without seeking ministry approval.
The enhanced powers will allow the director to outsource some services in the agency, but with the approval of the finance ministry.