New manual on graft investigations: CBI looks to finish probes within 9 months
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to complete majority of its investigations under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act within a maximum nine months, according to the latest Crime Manual of the agency, which was updated after 15 years.
The existing one-year deadline in corruption cases will apply only in those cases wherein a high ranking government official such as a joint secretary or secretary is accused, and the probe is being supervised by an officer of additional director rank or above in the CBI, people familiar with the development said.
For cases against lower-rung government officers, like clerks or section officers etc, CBI’s investigating officers (IOs) will have to complete probes within six months.
CBI’s latest Crime Manual — which has been prepared by a task force led by additional director Praveen Sinha after consulting legal experts, retired officers of the agency and other experts — has for the first time given a provision to form “investigation teams” in complex cases rather than depending on one Investigating Officer (IO). The manual, which is referred to by the CBI officers while initiating a preliminary enquiry (PE) or First Information Report (FIR) and conducting investigations, had become outdated as courts had struck down several criminal laws and there have been amendment in various laws as well.
The Prevention of Corruption Act and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) have also been since amended, and Supreme Court has passed several judgments, which have been taken into account while updating the manual for the benefit of IOs, said the officer.
The manual also gives special thrust on investigations abroad. Officials cited above said a special chapter has been dedicated in the manual explaining how to conduct investigations abroad as well as procedures and the functioning of Interpol.
“We have comprehensively revised our SOPs (standard operating procedures) so as to enhance the speed and quality of investigation and in consonance with global best practices,” said an officer who did not want to be named. The new manual will explain to the IOs the procedure to collect the digital evidence as large number of cases related to child pornography, phishing, and bitcoins etc. having international ramifications are being reported.
It also has information about preventive vigilance functioning of CBI so that field units can use the same, officers said.