While the union cabinet approved the recommendations by a Group of Ministers (GoM) for making the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) more independent, BJP leader Arun Jaitley dismissed it as a "farce".
In an article released by the Bharatoya Janata Party (BJP), titled "The GOM's Recommendations on the CBI Functioning - A Farce", Jaitley wrote: "The government made it appear as though some earth-shaking new decision had to be taken on the basis of the recommendations of the Group of Ministers."
"The decision taken at the meeting of the cabinet does not in any way immunize the CBI from political interference," he said.
A GoM, headed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, has recommended constitution of a panel of retired judges to monitor investigations by the agency to ensure that probes remain free from any external influence. The recommendations were approved by the cabinet Thursday.
Jaitley, however, said the recommendations regarding the CBI by a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha on the Lokpal bill were strong, but the government ignored them.
The recommendations accepted by the Select Committee included that the investigative wing and prosecution wing of the CBI should act independently. The director of the CBI and director of prosecution should be appointed by a collegium comprising the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the chairman of Lokpal.
The CBI's director and director of prosecution must have a fixed term and the power of superintendence, and direction of the CBI in relation to Lokpal-referred cases must vest with the Lokpal.
The recommendations also said if an officer investigating a case is sought to be transferred for any reason whatsoever, the prior approval of the Lokpal should be required and the panel of advocates who appear for and advise the CBI should be independent of the government. They can be appointed by the director of prosecution after obtaining prior approval of the Lokpal.
"Thus, when the Supreme Court passed an order asking the government to outline the steps that it intends to take in order to immunize the CBI from political interference, the government ought to have placed the near unanimous recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee," Jaitley said.
He said the suggestions by the Group of Ministers and its approval by the cabinet ignores all the above suggestions and "merely makes the CBI accountable to a panel of retired judges".
He questioned "who would select these judges?" and added "most retirement jobs dished out to many retired judges has almost become an entitlement".
"I have repeatedly said that this trend of giving post-retirement jobs to retiring judges requires to be discouraged if the independence of judiciary is to be strengthened. Government selected retired judges do not inspire confidence," he said.
"The UPA has ensured its longevity by misusing the CBI," he added.