NEW DELHI: With the UPA Government losing in the first round of the Lokpal fight in Parliament, the odds are against the CBI to become truly autonomous and independent.
The agency’s hopes had soared when all the political parties, except for the Congress, advocated vehemently for its autonomy.
But, it is not clear as to whether it will happen in 2012 or not. CBI officials feel that the debate on corruption and the Lokpal has given them the right opportunity to lobby hard to get out of the Government’s tight-fist control and become truly ‘autonomous’. At present, the agency is much dependent on the Government on critical issues of finance, administration, transfer and postings, seeking sanctions for prosecutions and even for filing appeal in court’s. CBI director Amar Pratap Singh has already launched an effective media campaign to argue for the autonomy. Several former CBI directors have been roped in to come out in the agency’s support. Former directors like, Joginder Singh, R K Raghvan, Trinath Mishra, Ashwini Kumar and others have written several opinion pieces arguing against the government’s control. The agency’s ‘autonomy’ view was not their initial position. During the meeting with Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the chairman on Parliament’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice that drafted the Lokpal Bill, Singh was more focused on preventing division of the agency by separating the anti-corruption unit and merging it with the Lokpal. He also took the position that the agency should not remain under control of the Lokpal as advocated by Team Anna. The agency’s officials, however, got a rude shock on reading the final draft-Lokpal Bill. It has several provisions that would only weaken their existing system. It would also make it work at cross-purpose with the new institution. The most worrying aspect of the Bill was to put obstacles in their statutory powers of carrying out investigation. A senior CBI official alleged that the Government’s intention seems to scuttle their freedom of ‘investigation’ that it draws from the CrPc (Code of Criminal Procedure).