Government details steps to insulate CBI from politics

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) The appointment of the CBI director by a collegium that includes the prime minister is among the steps taken by the government to insulate the agency from political and bureaucratic interference, the Supreme Court was informed Wednesday.

The collegium would also include the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the chief justice of India or a judge of the apex court to be nominated by him, the government said in a 41-page affidavit filed in the court's registry Wednesday.

It said the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act) would be amended for this.

The prime minister would be the chairman of the three-member committee.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director would have a term of not less than two years. The director, the affidavit said, would not be transferred without the prior consent of the three-member committee.

The government told the court that the central government would introduce a bill containing the necessary amendments in parliament.

The proposed committee shall recommend an IPS officer to be the CBI chief on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption and criminal cases.

Besides giving a secured tenure of two years, the government said the officer can only be removed by the president on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity.

An inquiry into allegations of misbehaviour or incapacity would be made by the Central Vigilance Commissioner.

During the inquiry, the president may suspend CBI director and, if necessary, could prohibit him from attending office.

If the apex court gives its nod, then long delays in the government's decision on the request for sanction to proceed against a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act may be a matter of the past.

The government has decided to amend the DSPE Act to provide for time limit of three months for taking a decision on such a request by the probe agency.

The affidavit follows an apex court order of May 8 asking what steps the government intended to take to uphold the CBI's autonomy and to insulate it from political and bureaucratic interference.

The court had sought "an unambiguous assurance, very clear and candid assurance" from the government that "law will be in place in a particular time".

The apex court's direction came after the CBI director admitted that the probe report into the allocation of coal blocks was vetted by then law minister Ashwani Kumar and officials of the Prime Minister's Office and the coal ministry.

The proposed amendments also provides for the mechanism for the selection and appointment of the director of prosecution.

The government has also decided to amend the DSPE Act to provide for an Accountability Commission which will have three whole time members from among retired judges of apex court or high court.

The Accountability Commission would look into the allegations of "misbehaviour, incapacity, impropriety or irregularity" on the part of the officers or employees of the investigating agency.

The financial powers of the CBI director would be at par with that of the director general of the Central Reserve Police Force.

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