A parliamentary committee has recommended that the CBI be given powers to directly probe terror attacks and serious crimes, including human trafficking.
The delay in handing over cases to the investigative agency give criminals enough time to escape, said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Public Grievances in its report to Parliament. The panel pointed out that existing laws do not allow the CBI to begin investigations on its own, and by the time the state governments or courts ask the agency to probe a crime, crucial evidence gets destroyed.
The committee, headed by EM Sudarsana Natchiappan, recommended the setting up of an Anti-Terrorism Unit in the CBI so that “proper attention could be given to prevention and management of terror attacks in the present scenario when India faces the grave challenge of terrorism”.
Holding involvement of multiple authorities responsible for the confusion in dealing with intelligence inputs, which allow terrorists to succeed in their targets at times, the committee strongly recommended that the CBI be made the central point of reference from the beginning.
“The CBI should be the coordinating agency since the time an intelligence input is received. It should work with the intelligence agencies and then should automatically be allowed to work alongside the state police for the prevention of attacks,” Natchiappan said.
There had been instances where states had not acted on intelligence inputs provided by the central agencies and had later blamed the central government after the terror attacks, he said. He however refused to name the states.
The committee rejected the argument that a federal role for the CBI, similar to that of FBI in the US, could lead to a tussle with the states. So far only Orissa, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have agreed to the proposal to enable the CBI to probe crimes directly.
“Every Indian, whether he is a native of a particular state or not, has a right to protection by the government, which has a corresponding obligation. Vesting the CBI to take suo motu cognisance of crimes would in no way affect the essentials of our federal structure”, the report said.
Identifying the delay by government departments in granting sanction for prosecution of the accused as one of the major reasons for pending cases, the committee recommended that if the CBI did not get the permission in 15 days, it should file a chargesheet in court.