The Centre on Thursday decided to give functional autonomy to CBI and approved the proposal for constitution of a panel of retired judges to oversee the investigations under taken by the agency.
Sources said that the meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considered the recommendations of the Group of Ministers and approved them. The GoM is understood to have recommended constitution of a panel of retired judges which would monitor the investigations undertaken by the agency to ensure that CBI probes remain free from any influence.
The GoM was chaired by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and comprised Law Minister Kapil Sibal, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy.
Sources said that the CBI Director in future is to be appointed through a collegium which will include the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. The GoM had also suggested increasing the financial powers of the CBI Director. Sources pointed out that the GoM’s recommendations were not made public on Thursday since they would be part of the government’s affidavit to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the case on July 10. The government would also inform the apex court about the pending Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha.
The government had to constitute the GoM after the observations of the Supreme Court on the functioning of the CBI while hearing the coal block allocation and directed that it ensure CBI probes remain free from any influence.
The Supreme Court had indicted CBI of being a “caged parrot” of its political masters while hearing a case related to irregularities in coal blocks allocation and directed it to make an effort to come out with a law to insulate CBI from external influence. The court’s remarks had come following an affidavit from CBI Director R Sinha who admitted to have shared a draft coal block allocation probe report with former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and two joint secretaries -- Shatrughna Singh and A K Bhalla -- in the Prime Minister’s Office and Coal Ministry Srespectively.