CBI STILL A CAGED BIRD FOR GOVT?

New Delhi :  The Centre on Wednesday rejected the CBI’s demand to grant ex-officio power of secretary to its Director and allow him to report directly to the Minister-in-charge by telling the Supreme Court that it will create a new precedent and heartburn in similarly-placed organisations.

CBI STILL A CAGED BIRD FOR GOVT?

Holding the CBI as its “subordinate office”, the Centre rejected the plea to give more power to its Director, saying that it would be bad in law if such demands are met which would result in “vesting unbridled power in one authority”.

In a 23-page affidavit filed in the apex court, the government said that although the Director is in grade and pay scale of the Secretary but agency demand for ex-officio power cannot be granted as it would alter the organisational relationship between the Government department and its subordinate offices.

“While considering the demands of a particular subordinate office like the CBI, it has to keep in mind the issue of parity with similarly-placed organisations and it is not desirable to create new precedent which would create heartburn in similarly-placed organisations.

“The mere fact of same pay scales does not alter the organisational relationship between the Government departments and its subordinate offices. Other Central Armed Forces, Central Police Organisations, office-rs of the Armed Services many of whom may be enjoying similar pay scales or even higher to that of the Secretary to the government but that does not alter the official procedure,” the affidavit said.

It said that if such demand by one organisation is acceded to by the government, there will be similar demands raised by other subordinate organisations.

“The Government is accountable and answerable to Parliament and therefore the right of the executive to run the government, subject to checks and balances, cannot be taken away,” it said, adding, “Granting the ex-officio powers of the Secretary would run contrary to the rules and affect the statutory scheme of governance.”

“The vesting of ex-officio Secretary powers upon the CBI Director is strongly opposed as it will seriously jeopardise the scheme of checks and balances envisaged in the governance as well as other deleterious effects it is likely to have on the criminal justice system,” it said.

The Centre said if the CBI Director reports directly to the Minister-in-charge, the superintendence of the Minister de hors(without) its institutional and organisational support, would stand compromised and an independent layer of scrutiny would no longer be available.

“This would not only be against the legislative intent of the DPSE Act but also militate against democratic constitutional principles where it is desirable that police or investigating agencies function under the administrative supervision of the executive,” it said.

The government said the twin objectives of functional efficacy and independence of the agency can be achieved without disturbing the entire statutory scheme of governance.

It submitted that CBI Director cannot be compared with Secretary RAW who also was not allowed to submit files directly to the Minister.

It said that despite CBI being unable to even spend the allocated amount, the agency has been delegated enhanced financial powers equivalent to the DG, CRPF.

“These powers need to be exercised as the recent financial delegations have been substantial and if put to use by CBI these would redress issues of alleged red tape,” it said.The government said that if given ex-officio power of Secretary then the Director would be deciding on the appointment of public prosecutors which would lead to dilution of the principle of separation between the prosecuting agency and the investigating agency.

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