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CJI fields for a single probe agency

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    11th Apr, 2022

Context

The Chief Justice of India recently spoke in faovur of the country having one umbrella investigating body.

Background

What did the Chief Justice of India say?

  • While speaking at a memorial lecture the Chief Justice of India said that the working methodology of CBI has raised doubts regarding its credibility.
  • The CJI expressed the need to break the nexus between investigating agencies and the political executives.
  • He also pitched the idea of creating a single statutory body which will serve as an umbrella organization for all central investigating organisations like CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Serious Fraud Investigation Office etc.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) 

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a premier investigating police agency in India.
  • It serves as the main agency of the Central Government and is responsible for a wide variety of criminal and national security matters.
  • It was established on April 1, 1963, and draws its power from the Special Police Force (SPE).
  • Later on, it was brought under the Home Ministry of Government of India.

Enforcement Directorate (ED)

  • Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces the following laws: -
  • o   Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) - A Civil Law, with officers empowered to conduct investigations into suspected contraventions of the Foreign Exchange Laws and Regulations, adjudicate, contraventions, and impose penalties on those adjudged to have contravened the law.
  • o   Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) - A Criminal Law, with the officers empowered to conduct investigations to trace assets derived out of the proceeds of crime, to provisionally attach/ confiscate the same, and to arrest and prosecute the offenders found to be involved in Money Laundering.

Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO)

  • Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is a fraud investigation agency set up to solve serious, complex frauds under the Companies Act, 2013.
  • It is a statutory institution meant to resolve frauds in the central services and others.

Why is the CBI in favour of creating an umbrella investigating agency?

  • According to the CBI setting up an umbrella investigating agency will end multiplicity of proceedings.
  • This, as per the CJI, will also save the probe agencies from being blamed as tools of political harassment.

What are the merits in the proposition of a single investigating agency made by CJI?

  • CJI is correct in saying that an umbrella investigating agency will terminate the problem of multiple agencies probing the same act from different perspectives of law.
An example to the situation is the Harshad Mehta case, were CBI invested the matter from the point of view of stock market manipulation and the ED probed it from the viewpoint of money laundering.
  • This causes jurisdictional havoc and results in turf war between the agencies.
  • The above situation also may lead to and has led to in the past to of prolonging trial.
  • Unification of agencies will make investigation by single entity possible with all aspects of the case taken into consideration by it.

Is creation of single probe agency advisable?

  • Setting up a single agency may lead to concentration of all investigating powers in the hands of a single agency and individuals administering that agency.
  • Independence of such a unified probe agency from the influence of political executives cannot be guaranteed just because it is a statutory body.
It has to be remembered that even CBI is a statutory body but has been termed as “Parrot of Executive” by the Supreme Court itself.
  • In fact collaboration between a unified agency and the executive government may harm the democratic fabric of this country even more.
  • Existence of multiple investigating organizations is also due to the fact that they specialize in probing specific types of crime.
Merger of all the agencies may lead to dilution of such specialization and hence the same is not advisable.

What has to be done?

  • Severing the connections between central investigating agencies and political executives can only happen over the period of time.
  • For the above to happen it is important for the personnel of such agencies to see career benefits of serving the country with fear or favour.
  • Better coordination between different agencies can be established through regular seminars and interaction making it easy for them to investigate the same act from their respective jurisdictional perspective in a much smoother way.
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