Government reports to SC on steps taken to free CBI from political controls

The central government today filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court detailing the steps taken to free the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from political interference, including the setting up of a collegium to appoint the CBI director.

The collegium, which would include the prime minister, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court to be nominated by him, is among the steps the government has proposed to insulate the investigating agency from political interference, according to the affidavit.

The 41-page affidavit also promises amendments to the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to facilitate this.

The affidavit says the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director would have a term of not less than two years.

The CBI director can be removed before his term only on the orders of the President of India.

The affidavit says the proposed collegium will select the CBI director from among IPS officers on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption and criminal cases.

Besides, the government proposes to set up an accountability commission to entertain queries and complaints and probe into allegations of corruption involving the CBI director.

The CBI is currently under direct and indirect control of five different ministries and departments of the government of India: the ministry of home affairs which clears the cadre; the DoPT for reporting day-to-day working, allocation of funds and induction of officers; the UPSC for officers above the rank of deputy SP; the law and justice ministry for appointments and payments to public prosecutors and; the central vigilance commission for all anti-corruption cases.

The affidavit, however, is silent on how to extricate the CBI from its current reporting system in order to make it independent.

The affidavit was earlier cleared by a group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister P Chidambaram.

The affidavit is in response to the Supreme Court's direction to the central government in the wake the CBI director's admission in April that a probe report on the allocation of coal blocks was vetted by the then law minister Ashwani Kumar and officials of the prime minister's office and the coal ministry.

The final hearing in the case is on slated for 10 August.