Appointment of CBI Director

Context

  • Recently, the Prime Minister led three-member selection committee had appointed Maharashtra cadre IPS officer of 1985 batch as CBI Director.

  • He is appointed for a period of two years from the date of assumption of charge of the office or until further orders whichever is earlier.

Key Details

  • The government has picked him from a panel of three officers shortlisted by the Prime Minister-led high-level selection committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India as well as the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha. 
  • The other two officers were eliminated from the race after Chief Justice of India NV Ramana used the ‘rule of law’ as ruled by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case of March 2019, where it said that no officer with less than six months to retirement should be appointed as police chief.
  • Interestingly, this is for the first time that the rule of six months’ tenure was applied in the appointment of the CBI chief.
  • According to the guidelines set by the Supreme Court in 2004, officers from the four oldest serving batches of IPS are considered for the top post. 
  • The officials having experience in anti-corruption investigations or CBI, from the senior-most four batches of IPS cadre, will be empanelled, following which a screening of three officers would be sent to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.
  • CJI made it clear that there shouldn’t be any controversy in the selection process and officials left with less than six months in their retirement should not be considered for the CBI chief’s post.

Back to Basics

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • It is the premier investigation agency of the central government for cases relating to corruption and major criminal probes.
  • It has its origin in the Special Police Establishment set up in 1941 to probe bribery and corruption during World War II.
  • CBI was set up by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1963 after the Santhanam committee recommendation.
  • The superintendence of CBI rests with Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in corruption cases and with the Department of personnel and training in other matters.
  • Presently it acts as an attached office under DOPT. Central Bureau of Investigation
  • Although DSPE Act gives legal power to CBI, CBI is not a statutory body as:
    • Word ‘CBI’ is not mentioned in the DSPE act.
    • The executive order of MHA did not mention CBI to be constituted under DSPE Act.
  • The agency has been known to investigate several economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and other cases.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act.
  • CBI is India’s officially designated single point of contact for liaison with the Interpol.

Appointment of CBI director

  • The CBI Director is appointed, for not less than a term of 2 years, by the Appointment Committee on recommendation of Selection Committee as mentioned in DSPE Act 1946 amended through the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act 2013 and CVC Act, 2003 respectively. The Appointment Committee consists of:
    • Prime Minister – Chairperson
    • Leader of Opposition of Loksabha or the Leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, if the former is not present due to lack of mandated strength in the Lok Sabha – member
    • Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member
  •  

    When making recommendations, the committee considers the views of the outgoing director.

  • The Selection Committee constituted under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 nominates a certain number of names to the Appointment Committee, one among whom the Appointment Committee appoints as the CBI director. The Selection Committee consists of:
  • Central Vigilance CommissionerChairperson
    Vigilance CommissionersMembers
    Secretary to the Government of India in-charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Central GovernmentMembers
    Secretary, Co-ordination and Public Grievances, Cabinet SecretariatMember

Jurisdiction, powers and restrictions

  • The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) and officers of the Union Territories.
  • The central government may extend to any area (except Union Territories) the powers and jurisdiction of the CBI for investigation, subject to the consent of the government of the concerned state.
  • Members of the CBI at or above the rank of sub-inspector may be considered officers in charge of police stations.
  • Under the act, the CBI can investigate only with notification by the central government.

Relationship with state police

  • The CBI was originally constituted under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, to operate within the territory of Delhi. As policing and law is a subject that falls within state powers under the structure of Indian federalism, the CBI needs prior consent from other state governments in order to conduct investigations within their territory. This consent can be in the form of a ‘general consent’ under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which remains in operation for all investigations until it is revoked, or alternatively, a ‘specific consent’ authorising investigations in individual cases.
  • Once consent is granted, the CBI can investigate economic, corruption, and special crimes (including national security, drugs and narcotics, etc.)
  • Most Indian states had granted general consent to the CBI to investigate crimes within their territory. However, as of 2020, several states have withdrawn their ‘general consent’ for the CBI to operate, and require a special consent to be granted on a case to case basis.

High Courts and the Supreme Court

  • The High Courts and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to order a CBI investigation into an offence alleged to have been committed in a state without the state’s consent, according to a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court.
  • The court clarified this is an extraordinary power which must be exercised sparingly, cautiously and only in exceptional situations.
  • The SC in CBI VS CBI case held that the power to remove/send on leave the director of CBI, vested in the selection committee, not with the central govt. SC says this verdict when CBI Director challenge the decision of central govt to send him on leave without his will.

SC Rulings on the Appointment Process

  • In Vineet Narayan vs. Union of India (1998), the apex court laid down that the director, CBI shall be appointed on the recommendation of a committee comprising the Central Vigilance Commissioner, vigilance commissioners, secretary (home) and secretary (personnel), and that he shall have a minimum tenure of two years. 
  • In pursuant with SC order, the CBI Director has been provided security of tenure in office by CVC Act 2003.
  • In July 2018, Supreme court had passed a slew of directions on police reforms and restrained all states and Union territories from appointing any police officer as acting DGPs to avoid favouritism and nepotism in such high-level appointments.
  • In Prakash Singh Case (2019),  Supreme Court judgment that said officers with less than six months left in service should not be considered for the position of DGP
  • Dispelling confusion regarding an order issued in July 2018, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said senior police officers with a residual tenure of six months before normal retirement could be considered for the post of DGP or higher.

Source: The Hindu & Wikipedia


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