The Madras high court on Tuesday (August 17) sought statutory status for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and asked the Union government to bring a law that will give autonomy to the apex investigation agency in the real sense of the word.
Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi of the Madras high court’s Madurai bench gave several directions to improve the functioning of CBI with an objective to “release the caged parrot”. The CBI was referred to as a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court in May 2013 while pointing at “interference” (political) in the agency’s probe in the coal allocation scam.
The HC made this and many more observations about the probe agency while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a CBI probe in a chit fund scam.
The court said that the CBI has an “aura of reverence” and people look up to the central agency in case they aren’t satisfied with investigation by the local police. “When such is the trust and faith of the people, very sadly CBI is dragging its feet, whenever there is a demand for CBI enquiry on the ground that resources and manpower available with CBI are very restricted and therefore, it cannot conduct investigations,” the bench said.
During an earlier hearing in the chit fund scam case, the High Court had asked a series of questions to the CBI concerning its resources at hand, investigating skills and infrastructure.
After listening to CBI’s reply on Tuesday, the HC gave a series of suggestions for improvement of the federal probe agency.
Madras High Court’s suggestions to improve the CBI
While hearing the PIL in chit fund scam on Tuesday, the HC said the CBI needs a statutory status like the one given to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Election Commission (EC). Just as the CAG is accountable to Parliament the CBI should directly report to the Prime Minister, observed the High Court.
Among other recommendations, the high court said the CBI should have a separate budget allocation and the CBI director should have the authority which is equivalent to the secretary to the government.
The court also sought up-to-date facilities for CBI on lines of the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation and the UK’s Scotland Yard.
The HC suggested that the CBI should investigate cases in a time-bound manner.
The court asked the CBI to file a compliance report at the next hearing, failing which the CBI director will have to appear in the court.