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What ails the CBI? It's much more than political intervention

Delivering the DP Kohli Memorial Lecture in New Delhi yesterday, the CBI director RK Shukla laid out the pressing issues confronting the investigating agency

twitter-logo Dipak Mondal        Last Updated: August 14, 2019  | 22:15 IST
What ails the CBI? It's much more than political intervention
CBI headquarters in New Delhi

Is it just the political intervention that is ailing the country's premier investigation agency - the Central Bureau of Investigation - earning it the infamous sobriquet Caged Parrot? The CBI is probably grappling with much more than just that.

Delivering the DP Kohli Memorial Lecture in New Delhi yesterday, the CBI director RK Shukla laid out the pressing issues confronting the investigating agency.

Shukla highlights legal ambiguity, weak human resource, lack of investments among bigger concerns along with political intervention, which are affecting the functioning of the agency.

Highlighting the lack of adequately qualified and competent workforce, the CBI director says 15 per cent posts in executive ranks, 28.37 per cent posts of law officers and 56.17 per cent posts of technical officers are lying vacant with the agency.

"This is a matter of concern as it results in overburdening of work, which not only reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of the agency personnel but also induce psychological distress. Potential ramifications may compromise both the quality of investigations and the policy design, formulation and implementation efforts," he says.

On the issue of legal ambiguity, Shukla says that lack of clearly demarcated spheres of functioning and overlapping areas of influence severely compromises both the integrity and efficacy of the institution.

He gave an example of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946. Under the act, he says, for conduct or continuance of investigation into offences committed with the territory of a state, consent of the state is crucial. "Given vested interests or bureaucratic lethargy, such consent is often either denied or delayed, severely compromising the investigation.

Talking about multiplicity of enforcement/investigating agencies and the resultant turf-war between these agencies, Shukla says multiplicity of institutions' results is an aggressive competition for scarce resources. He blames this issue on lack of a comprehensive statue protecting the agency's autonomy.

The CBI director also rues the fact that a premier institution like CBI is confronting the issue of 'inadequate' investment.

"Inadequate investment in personal, training, equipment or other support structures, adversely hampers professional discharge of duties. High quality research and training are crucial for maintaining an effective modern police force imparting it with the operational ability to meaningfully respond to ever changing societal needs," he says.

On the much-talked about issue of political intervention, Shukla was candid in his assessment that whenever there are no political overtones to the case, the CBI does a good job.

He says that despite the Supreme Court expressing concerns over the independence of the agency in the past, 'the superintendence and control of the agency continues to, in large measure, lie with the executive by virtue of Section 4 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946. He says that as long as the Section 4 remains, the possibility of the agency being used as a political instrument also does.

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