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Scrutiny
  
Make CBI a Constitutional Body
CBI has Recorded its Lowest Conviction Rate in 2009; What’s the Way Forward?
09/12/2010

That the CBI is India’s top investigation agency is a fact beyond dispute. That it has clocked up the lowest conviction rate in its history in the year 2009, also similarly so. That approximately 1770 of the total 5900 staff of CBI has still not been recruited, equally so. And that there are 1,389 cases of CBI pending in courts more so. That 171 cases have been pending for eight years and more, 51 cases for 15 years and 39 cases for 20 years and above, the most undisputed of them all.

Evidently, the main reason for many of the cases getting elongated – and in some, even the chargesheet not getting filed (119 cases) – is political pressure. The noted Joginder Singh rights in the Daily Pioneer that as the CBI is not a Constitutional body (like the Election Commission is), it cannot “draw its own road map,” and would have to adhere to each and every political push as “the CBI cannot either investigate a case or function in any State without the consent of the State Government.” The logic in Joginder Singh’s argument is brilliant and perchance one that the forward looking Central government should immediately undertake, if it is really committed to maintaining a clean record, post the huge imbroglios of Commonwealth Games and telecom bidding.

The government can learn from how the Election Commission of India was established in 1950 under Article 324. Once set up, India has seen many time periods that have witnessed massive friction between the powers that be and the election commissioners – with T. N. Seshan being the most noteworthy of them all, who ensured that the government understood the Commission’s superiority.

In other words, not only is it required that the government constitutionalise CBI, but also that it gives away the power to recruit the head of CBI in a manner that does not make it a mockery (akin to what has happened with the Central Vigilance Commission, where the top appointments have become politicised).

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