Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chidambaram-led Ministerial team to decide CBI’s autonomy

NEW DELHI,15 May 2013:-

The GoM, under the chairmanship of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, will draft a law for the independence of the CBI and its functional autonomy. (File/PTI)

A week after the Supreme Court questioned the credibility of the CBI, calling it a 'caged parrot speaking in its master's voice', an embarrassed UPA government on Tuesday constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to examine and formulate a new law to make the premier investigation agency autonomous and independent.

The GoM, under the chairmanship of Finance Minister P Chidambaram with Communication & Technology and Law Minister Kapil Sibal, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde as members, will draft a law for the independence of the CBI and its functional autonomy. Under the present structure, the agency is dependent on various ministries, including the Home Ministry, Ministry of Personnel, Finance Ministry and Law Ministry, for financial and administrative requirements.

"The GoM will prepare the draft law and the draft affidavit to be filed in the Supreme Court in the context of the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 120 of 2012, within three weeks. The GoM will be serviced by the Department of Personnel and Training," said a statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat.

The move comes after the apex court noted the undue interference of the government in the functioning of the probe agency and asked the Attorney General to submit the draft of a new law to insulate the CBI from external influence before July 10, the next hearing of the coal scam case. On CBI Director Ranjit Sinha's second affidavit, the court had said it was a sordid saga where there were many masters and one parrot. The affidavit, revealing juicy details of government influence, had confirmed changes made by former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and two senior officials from the PMO and Coal Ministry in the coal scam draft status report.

The nine page affidavit filed by Sinha had also exposed the government's modus operandi in handling high profile cases. Several former IPS officers, who have served in the agency in the past, had alleged that the CBI's investigation was effective only in probing low profile cases. When it came to powerful politicians, the prosecution was easily manipulated by the government of the day.

Speaking to Express, former CBI director D R Karthikeyan said at the moment the government has no option but to give autonomy to the CBI. "This is a national issue now. It is no more between the government and the agency. They will have to provide more financial and administrative power to the CBI to make it an independent agency," said Karthikeyan. Vijay Shankar, who was heading the agency between 2005 and 2008, said a draft of the CBI act is already pending with the government and it should have been enacted long ago.
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