Government gets ready to respond to SC on functional autonomy to CBI

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NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court setting July 10 deadline for government to come out with a law to insulate CBI from external influence and intrusion, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked a group of three ministers — P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and V Narayanasamy — to firm up government’s response by looking into all the suggestions to give the central agency a functional autonomy.

CBI chief Ranjit Sinha will give his input to this group which will look into various recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee, Supreme Court’s past observations in different cases and the draft CBI Act which have been gathering dust for years.

“The group will prepare a detailed reply including the past measures taken by the government to ensure necessary checks and balances in the functioning of the CBI. The reply will be submitted before the apex court in the form of affidavit”, said an official.

Amid the urgency to address the concerns raised by the Supreme Court over the functioning of the CBI, the agency director Ranjit Sinha on Friday met the minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy and discussed with him the modalities of giving his input to the group of ministers.

“The meeting was held to discuss administrative matters related to the CBI after the recent Supreme Court’s observations,” Narayanasamy, who is in-charge of the ministry responsible for looking after administrative needs of the agency, told reporters.

Sources indicated that the group would discuss in detail the draft CBI Act which was submitted to the ministry of personnel three years ago. The ministers may come out with a fresh draft Act which will eventually replace the existing Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that governs the functioning of the agency.

Besides seeking extension of powers and jurisdiction of the CBI to states on the lines of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, the draft CBI Act also provides for a separate cadre for its officials and an independent directorate of prosecution. It also envisages a committee for appointment of the CBI director — a provision that has also been made in the pending Lokpal Bill.

The votaries of the new CBI Act had emphasized that the separate directorate of prosecution will spare the agency from getting in touch with law ministry which, at present, provides law officers to the agency. Similarly, a separate cadre for CBI officials will not make it dependent either on the home ministry or the UPSC for staff requirements.

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