QUESTION : Discuss the factors undermining the independence of the CBI and make suggestions to revamp the organisation.
Autonomy of the CBI
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Centre recently informed the Supreme Court that the CBI was an “autonomous body” and it had no “control” over the investigation agency.
- The submission in the top court incidentally comes two days after the promulgation of an ordinance extending the tenures of the CBI Director and the Enforcement Directorate chief.
- The Attorney-General was objecting to a suit filed by the West Bengal Government making the Union of India, and not the CBI, party.
- West Bengal has, in the case, challenged the CBI’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the State in myriad cases.
- The State had withdrawn its “general consent” to the CBI way back in 2018.
- The Centre, though, said it had no part in the FIRs and cases registered by the CBI.
CENTRE’S ARGUMENTS :
- The West Bengal Government has got it wrong. The CBI can speak for itself.
o It is, after all, an independent body operating under a statute of law.
- The defendant [Union of India] is not concerned under any of these issues.
- There is a Special Act called the DSPE Act and the officials of the Delhi Special Police Establishment are required to register cases.
- Registering FIR is purely by an autonomous body. The Union of India has no control.
WEST BENGAL POINT :
- It countered that the Centre and the CBI were “inextricably intertwined”.
- The fact was evident from the DSPE Act.
IMPORTANT CHANGES BROUGHT BY ORDINANCE :
- The previous list comprised Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Director, Intelligence Bureau and Secretary, Research and Analysis Wing.
o Though Director, CBI, was also mentioned in the previous order, the Monday notification adds the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (25 of 1946) under which the investigation agency’s head is appointed.
- The notification amended the fifth proviso of Clause (d) of Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules, 1922.
o It said, “Provided also that the Central Government may, if it considers necessary in public interest so to do, give extension in service to:
Director of Intelligence Bureau,
Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing and
Director of Central Bureau of Investigation appointed under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (25 of 1946) and
Director of Enforcement in the Directorate of Enforcement appointed under the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (45 of 2003) in the Central Government.
o Extension will be for such period or periods as it may deem proper on a case-to-case basis for reasons to be recorded in writing, subject to the condition that the total term of such Secretaries or Directors, as the case may be, who are given such extension in service under this rule, does not exceed two years or the period provided in the respective Act or rules made there under, under which their appointments are made.”
RETROSPECTIVE MOVE :
- The Centre had retrospectively extended the tenure of the Director of the ED in 2020.
o According to the Finance Ministry a November 19, 2018 order through which ED director, a 1984-batch Indian Revenue Service official, was appointed has been modified with approval from the President and it would now be read for three years. He is to retire on November 17.
- The NGO Common Cause had challenged the retrospective extension in the Supreme Court.
o Previously hearing a case that had challenged a one-year retrospective extension to ED director in November 2020, a Supreme Court bench had directed the government not to give any more extensions to the incumbent ED chief.
- Recently, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) gave a one-year extension to Home Secretary, beyond his two-year fixed tenure that was to end on August 22 and On May 28, one-year extension in service was granted to Intelligence Bureau Director and R&AW Secretary.
OPPOSITION CONTENTION :
- The opposition claimed that the two ordinances brought by the central government that allows the Centre to extend the two-year fixed tenures of CBI Director and Enforcement Directorate chief not only takes away the independence of these agencies, but also disrespects a recent Supreme Court order.
- The crucial word in this ordinance is the word extension. The attempt is to substitute servility and subordination to political masters in place of independence. It is to substitute subjectivity in place of objectivity.
- While the move will not immediately benefit the incumbent CBI Director, appointed in May this year, it has come just days before the incumbent ED Director is to retire.
ABOUT CBI :
- The Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Delhi Special Police Establishment, a Central Government Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
- It then aimed to investigate bribery and corruption in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India.
- It then had its headquarters in Lahore.
- After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate bribery and corruption by central-government employees.
- The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated in 1963.
MANDATE OF THE CBI :
- The CBI is the main investigating agency of the GoI.
- It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
- Its important role is to prevent corruption and maintain integrity in administration.
- It works under the supervision of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) in matters pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- The CBI is also India’s official representative with the INTERPOL.
CASES TO INVESTIGATE :
- Cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws
- Crimes of a serious nature that have national and international ramifications
- Coordination with the activities of the various state police forces and anti-corruption agencies.
- It can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it
- Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
ISSUES WITH CBI :
- Caged parrot: The Supreme Court has criticised the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”.
Why was it called caged parrot by the Supreme Court?
- Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been a work in progress for years.
- Corruption and Politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
- CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
- Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by government was visible in the hope of better future postings.
- Political interference: It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
- Investigation delay: It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations due to political inertia.
- Loss of Credibility: CBI has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal, Bhopal gas tragedy.
- Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.
- Acute shortage of personnel: A major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce.
- Limited Powers: The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of investigation by CBI.
- Restricted Access: Prior approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation on the employees of the Central Government is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.
WAY FORWARD :
- Need for autonomy: As long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigating agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely.
- A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision.
- Selection of director/ Officers: To ensure that the CBI is a robust, independent and credible investigation agency, there is an urgent need to work out a much more transparent mechanism for selection and induction of officers on deputation.
- Lokpal scrutiny: The Lokpal Act already calls for a three-member committee made up of the PM, the leader of the opposition and the CJI to select the director.
- Bifurcation of Cadre: CBI should be bifurcated into an Anti-Corruption Body and a National Crime Bureau.
- Develop own cadre: One of the demands that have been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers.
- Annual social audit should be carried out by ten reputed, knowledgeable persons with background of law, justice, public affairs and administration and the audit report should be placed before the parliament.
To ensure that the CBI is a robust, independent and credible investigation agency, there is an urgent need to work out a much more transparent mechanism to oversee the appointments and functioning of CBI. Without a strong political will, the CBI cannot be freed from the government’s control and maintain the independence of CBI
QUESTION : “As India and Russia both desire a multipolar world, they are equally important for each other in fulfilling each other’s national interests.” Comment.
FOR MORE THAN A WAIVER
Impact of CAATSA on India-US bilateral relations
WHY IN NEWS ?
The arrival of the $5.4-billion Russian long-range surface-to-air missile defence shield “S-400” is expected next month, which is likely to generate more international headlines.
ABOUT S-400 :
- The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.
US RESERVATIONS AGAINST S-400 PURCHASE :
- The US has made it clear that the delivery of the five S-400 systems is considered a “significant transaction”.
- Such deals are considered under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017.
- It could trigger sanctions against Indian officials and the Government.
ABOUT CAATSA :
- The CAATSA is designed to ensure that no country is able to increase military engagement with Iran, North Korea and Russia without facing deterrent punitive action from the US.
- The sanctions are unilateral, and not part of any United Nations decision, and therefore no country is bound to accept them.
- Section 231 says the President shall impose no fewer than five different sanctions on any Government that enters into a significant defence or intelligence deal with Russia.
- Section 235 lists 12 options, including stopping credit lines from US and international banks such as the IMF, blocking sales of licensed goods and technology, banning banks, manufacturers and suppliers, property transactions and even financial and visa sanctions on specific officials.
- However, the law also empowers the President to waiver sanctions or delay them if the waiver is in the US’s “vital national security interests”.
HAS THE US USED CAATSA BEFORE FOR S-400 SALES ?
- The US has already placed sanctions on China and Turkey for purchase of the S-400.
- The sanctions included denial of export licences, ban on foreign exchange transactions, blocking of all property and interests in property within the US jurisdiction and a visa ban.
TYPES OF SANCTIONS LAID :
- In 2020, the US sanctioned its NATO partner Turkey, which it had warned about CAATSA sanctions for years, besides cancelling a deal to sell Ankara F-35 jets.
- The sanctions on Turkey’s main defence procurement agency, also included a ban on licences and loans, and blocking of credit and visas to related officials.
LIKELY IMPACTS AFTER INDIA’S PURCHASE :
- The Biden administration has no firm indication on where it leans on India’s case.
- However, several senators (US parliamentarians) have called upon the Biden administration to consider a special waiver for India.
- This is on account of India’s importance as a defence partner, and as a strategic partner on US concerns over China and in the Quad.
- Other US leaders thinks that giving a waiver to India would be the wrong signal for others seeking to go ahead with similar deals.
WHY IS THE S-400 DEAL SO IMPORTANT TO INDIA ?
- Security paradigm: S-400 is very important for India’s national security considerations due to the threats from China, Pakistan and now Afghanistan.
- Air defence capability: The system will also offset the air defence capability gaps due to the IAF’s dwindling fighter squadron strength.
- Russian legacy: Integrating the S-400 will be much easier as India has a large number of legacy Russian air defence systems.
- Strategic autonomy: For both political as well as operational reasons, the deal is at a point of no return.
INDIA-RUSSIA RELATIONS :
- Russia has been an all-weather friend of India for a long time. The relationship with the country is a key pillar of India’s foreign policy.
- The bilateral ties in recent times have suffered minor drawbacks mainly due to India’s inclination to the West and Russia’s growing relationship with China.
- Despite the differences, the other shared ties have remained strong. The Prime Minister of India, visited Russia’s Vladivostok to participate in the 20th India Russia annual summit and the 5th eastern Economic Forum.
- This was the first Indian Prime Minister’s visit to the Russian Far East which gave a new direction, new energy and new speed to the bilateral relations between the two countries.
- As India and Russia both desire a multipolar world, they are equally important for each other in fulfilling each other’s national interests. However, going by the changing geopolitical scenario around the globe, the relations between the two countries are not as good as it used to be in the Cold War era.
IMPORTANCE OF RUSSIA FOR INDIA :
- Defence- Russia has remained the largest importer of defence equipment to India.
- Nuclear Energy- Russia recognises India’s need to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In December 2014, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Russia’s Rosatom signed the Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy between India and Russia. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.
- Strategic- considering strong ties between Russia and China, India sees it as an actor that can influence China amidst increasing clashes between India and China. Russia recently organised a trilateral meeting among the foreign ministers of Russia, India, and China following deadly clashes in the Galwan Valley in the disputed territory of Ladakh.
- Space cooperation – The year 2020 marked the 45th anniversary of the launch of India’s first satellite “Aryabhatt” on a Russian (then USSR) launch vehicle “Soyuz”. Both sides are also exploring the possibility of cooperation in manned space flight.
- Combating terrorism- India and Russia how been working closely to finalize the comprehensive convention on international terrorism as clearly as possible.
- Emerging New Sectors of Economic Engagement- apart from the traditional areas of cooperation like weapons, hydrocarbons, nuclear energy and diamonds, there are several new sectors of economic engagement that are likely to be large in the near future. These include- mining, agro industrial, and high technology including robotics, nanotechnology as well as biotechnology.
- In addition to this, India’s presence in the Russian forest and in the Arctic is likely to expand in the near future and the connectivity projects may get a boost too.
- Support at Multilateral Forums- Russia has been a supporter of India’s candidacy for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council as well as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
- The CAATSA test will determine the course of the India-U.S. strategic partnership. India needs to balance its relation with both Russia and USA, so that its national interest is not compromised.