New Delhi: A Group of Ministers (GoM) will meet in the capital today to discuss granting greater autonomy to the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI. The ministers are expected to chalk out an action plan on the contentious issue, and could consider granting functional and financial autonomy to the investigating agency.
Here are 10 developments in this story
- Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had sharply criticised the Union government for interfering in the CBI's investigations in the coal scam.
- A livid court had observed that the agency is a "caged parrot that has many masters."
- The court's reprimand came after the CBI admitted that former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Coal Ministry made changes to the agency's draft report on its investigations, which was meant to be submitted in confidentiality to the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court had asked the Centre whether it was contemplating a law to make the working of the CBI independent and insulate it from extraneous intrusion and interferences.
- After the severe reprimand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted a Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, to decide the plan of action to secure the autonomy of the CBI.
- Speaking to NDTV last week, Mr Chidambaram said, "We will give the CBI functional autonomy. But all over the world - all bodies are accountable to somebody - they are accountable to executive, they are accountable to the legislature, they are accountable to the courts. I think what we have to ensure is that no one interferes with the investigations of the CBI."
- At least five parliamentary panels have submitted reports on how to secure the CBI's autonomy since 2008.
- The parliamentary panels have recommended a statutory position for the CBI, which would give it status equivalent to other autonomous bodies like the Election Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General.
- The latest House panel report on autonomy for the CBI, submitted on May 3, and authored by a cross-party committee that includes MPs Shantaram Naik (Congress) and Ram Jethmalani (BJP), has identified financial dependence as a key stumbling block in the way of the CBI being autonomous.
- Importantly, the panels have recommended a separate cadre of officers for the CBI to ensure that there is no shortage of manpower. The CBI currently draws its investigators from state police and is has a lot of vacancies at every level.