The first meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM), formed to look into the issue of granting functional autonomy to the CBI, was held here on Thursday.
The GoM discussed ways on giving the investigative agency more financial powers, but no agreement was reached in this regard.
The GoM, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, has a Supreme Court-ordained deadline till July 10 to propose amendments which would give the CBI independence from alleged government interference in its investigations into corruption and other cases.
Just as the Election Commission’s finances are controlled or routed through the Law Ministry, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is the nodal Ministry which has a hold over the financial powers of the CBI.
So, it was the DoPT which gave a presentation at the meeting on how to give CBI functional autonomy without creating an imbalance in the power structure.
Coming out after the hour-long meeting, Chidambaram said: “We were briefed by the DoPT on the Supreme Court order. And we were taken through present laws - the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the CVC Act. We were taken through Vineet Narain judgment. We identified the issues that need to be addressed.”
It was decided that Attorney General G E Vahanvati will be invited to the next meeting as he had appeared in the matter and there is a mention about him in the Supreme Court order, Chidambaram said.
Though there was no confirmation on it from the FM, sources said that CBI Director Ranjit Sinha too would make a presentation before the GoM at a later stage.
Apart from Chidambaram, the meeting was attended Law Minister Kapil Sibal, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy.
Since Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is away in the US, it gave the rest an excuse to keep the decision making for a later date.
In fact, Sibal admitted that the discussions were at a “very preliminary” stage.