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CBI Credibility Has Come Under Public Scrutiny: CJI N V Ramana

Justice Ramana said police and the investigative agencies may have de-facto legitimacy, but yet, as institutions, they still have to gain social legitimacy

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CBI’s credibility has come under deep public scrutiny with the passage of time as its actions and inactions have raised questions in some cases, Chief Justice N V Ramana on Friday said and called for creating an “independent umbrella institution” to bring various investigating agencies under one roof.

“When it comes to the CBI, it possessed immense trust of the public in its initial phase. In fact, the judiciary used to be flooded with requests for transfer of investigations to the CBI, as it was a symbol of impartiality and independence. Whenever the citizenry doubted the skill and impartiality of its own state police, they sought an investigation by the CBI, as they wanted justice to be done. But, with the passage of time, like every other institution of repute, the CBI has also come under deep public scrutiny. Its actions and inactions have raised questions regarding its credibility, in some cases,” Justice Ramana said.

The CJI, who was speaking at the 19th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture of CBI on “Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies”, said there was an “immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution for the investigating agencies to bring various agencies like CBI, SFIO, ED, etc under one roof”.

Justice Ramana said the body was required to be “created under a statute” clearly defining its powers, functions, and duties.

He said such a law will also need too much needed "legislative oversight" for the "upright organisation" to be headed by an "independent and impartial authority" to be appointed by a committee which appoints the director of the CBI.

"The head of the organisation can be assisted by deputies who are specialists in different domains. This umbrella organisation will end a multiplicity of proceedings. A single instance these days gets investigated by multiple agencies often leading to dilution of evidence, contradictions in depositions, prolonged establishment of innocence. It will also save the institutions from being blamed as the tools of harassment," he said.

Once an instance is reported, the organisation should decide as to which specialised unit should take up the investigation, Justice Ramana said.

Justice Ramana said police and the investigative agencies may have de-facto legitimacy, but yet, as institutions, they still have to gain social legitimacy.

“Police should work impartially and focus on crime prevention. They should also work in co-operation with the public to ensure law and order prevails in the society,” he said.

Justice Ramana said institutions including the Police and the investigative bodies should not allow any authoritarian tendencies to creep in and need to function within the democratic framework as any deviation will hurt them and will weaken our democracy.


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