The Central Bureau Of Investigation Act, 2010: A Political Fiasco And PMO Indifference

India's PM Singh attends an EU-India Summit in BrusselsAn important aspect that Indian Government must learn is that India Must Reconcile Civil Liberties and National Security Requirements. Indian Government must also have the Courage and Political Will to provide Parliamentary Oversight of Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies of India.

Not very late a Private Bill titled Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011 was introduced by Union Minister Manish Tiwari. That was a “Commendable Effort” on the part of Manish as he has done that no Political Party has dared to do.

Unfortunately, it was discarded by none other than the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who announced around 30th July 2011 that Law on Intelligence Agencies would be formulated soon. However, it proved nothing but a “Time Gaining Tactics” and so far Intelligence Agencies of India are not governed by any Legal Framework and Parliamentary Oversight.

The Intelligence Agencies are not alone that are without a Parliamentary Oversight. Our Law Enforcement Agencies in Delhi are also without Parliamentary Oversight. Take the examples of Delhi Police and the central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Delhi Police and CBI are practically not governed by Constitutionally Sound Laws.  The Draft Central Bureau of Investigation Act, 2010 has been kept in “Deep Freezer” by our Indian Government.

Now the Supreme Court of India has become aware of the “functioning methods” of CBI in the Coalgate Scam and it has shown its “Displeasure” the way CBI is handled by our ruling Government. The Court has also sought an explanation from the Indian Government as to the steps taken to “Insulate” and make CBI “Autonomous”.

The CBI was constituted through a “Resolution” and not a “Legal Framework”. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India’s resolution No. 4/31/61-T dated 1.4.1963 established the CBI with a view to investigate “Serious Crimes” related to Defence of India, Corruption in High Places, Serious Fraud, Cheating and Embezzlement and Social Crime, particularly of Hoarding , Blackmarketing and Profiteering in Essential Commodities, having all-India and Inter-State Ramifications.

To give it a “Legal Authority”, it was decided to govern the CBI through the “Colonial and Outdated” Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946. The DSPE Act itself is required to be “Repealed” but Indian Government cannot do so till a new law is passed in this regard.

According to the DSPE Act CBI requires consent of concerned State to investigate offences in its jurisdiction. However, this is a “Tricky Issue” as States have been “Objecting” to the Power exercised by Supreme Court and High Courts to order Investigation by CBI without their consent. Realising that this can no more be resolved through the “Antique DSPE Act”, the Parliamentary Committees have recommended replacement of DSPE Act by an independent CBI Act. As on date, there is lack of an independent unified Central Government Agency to undertake Prevention, Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Offences related to subjects mentioned in the List I, i.e. the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

The Draft Central Bureau of Investigation Act, 2010 was proposed as per the provisions of Article 246 of the Indian Constitution. The Objective of the proposed legislation was to formulate an Act to constitute the Central Bureau of Investigation in terms of the provisions of Article 246 of the Constitution of India, Entry No. 8 in the Union List of the 7th Schedule, to Prevent, Investigate and Prosecute Offences or Classes of Offences relatable to matters in the Union List throughout the territory of India and also to Investigate and Prosecute Offences or Classes of Offences relatable to matters in the Concurrent List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India in the Union Territories.

The Act would also repeal the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. However, till date nothing has happened in this regard. Now the Supreme Court of India has fixed a “Deadline” of July 10, 2013 for the Indian Government to point out the efforts it has taken to make CBI Transparent, Accountable and Non Partial.

I hope the PMO in general and our Prime Minister in particular would play a more “Pro Active Role” this time. The Indian Central Monitoring System Project needs PMO Intervention. Similarly, the PMO must also work in the direction of making our Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies Accountable to our Parliament and Judiciary. We have already wasted enough time and an “Immediate Action” on the part of PMO and Indian Parliament is desirable.