The present circumstances in which the central bureau of investigation (CBI) is operating are by and large a product of Political Fiasco and PMO’s Indifference. Indian government has been lethargic, rather indifferent, towards bringing transparency, accountability and parliamentary oversight of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Crucial bills like Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011 and Draft Central Bureau of Investigation Act, 2010 were not allowed to be passed in the Indian parliament by our Indian government.
It is not the case that only law enforcement and intelligence agencies are working without any parliamentary oversight. Even the projects like Aadhaar, central monitoring system (CMS), etc are operating without any transparency, accountability and parliamentary scrutiny. These projects need urgent PMO attention and scrutiny and their continued ignorance can be counter productive in the long term.
As far as CBI is concerned, the Supreme Court of India has given a deadline to Indian government to formulate a law for CBI. Reacting to this deadline, the Indian government has set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to draft a law for CBI.
However, this may be another time gaining tactics of Indian government as has been done in the past. For instance, at least five parliamentary panels have submitted reports since 2008 in this regard, the last of these handing in a report on May 3, just six days before the Supreme Court showed its displeasure.
Pinaki Misra, the BJD MP who is part of one such committee however points out that the government could save time by seriously considering the exhaustive recommendations of multiple parliamentary committees that have already been through this exercise and submitted reports on how autonomy for the CBI can be secured.
The latest house panel report on autonomy for the CBI, authored by a committee that includes MPs from across parties like Shantaram Naik (Congress) and Ram Jethmalani (BJP) has identified financial dependence as a key stumbling block in the way of the CBI being autonomous. The panels have recommended a statutory position for the CBI, which would give it status equivalent to other autonomous bodies like the Election Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General.
However, despite multiple exercises on the same point and despite arriving at the same conclusion on numerous occasions, CBI is still operating through an executive order. It is high time to formulate a full fledged and dedicated law for CBI so that its functioning can be separated from executive wishes.