"Some questions have come up recently about the legality of the CBI. Our government will look into this matter seriously and promptly," the prime minister said here at the conference of CBI and State Anti Corruption Bureau on Common Strategies to Combat Corruption and Crime.

"This is a matter that undoubtedly has to be considered also by the highest court in the land," he added.

He also assured that the government will do "all that is necessary" to establish the "legitimacy" of the CBI, and "protect its past and future".

A division bench of the Gauhati High Court last week questioned the validity of India's premier investigating agency, saying that it was legally not a police force.

The Supreme Court on November 9 stayed the Gauhati High Court's order declaring the CBI unconstitutional and fixed on December 6 as the next date of hearing.

Charge of political interference in CBI work unfortunate: PM

Terming as unfortunate opposition charge of political interference in CBI's functioning, the Prime Minister said that police and probe agencies operated under the administrative supervision of the executive but they enjoyed complete autonomy in investigation.
    
He said under the Constitution, maintenance of public order, which would include prevention, detection and prosecution of offences, is the domain of the executive.
    
"The police and the investigation agencies, therefore, are a part of the executive and must function under its administrative supervision," the Prime Minister said in his address at a CBI conference here.
    
On the agency's autonomy, he said, "I think it is very important to remember that under the law, the police enjoy complete autonomy in the matter of investigation of offences and no one, other than a superior police officer, can interfere with such investigation."
    
He said autonomy in investigation is already guaranteed to CBI and police but "if anything more needs to be done to further insulate the investigative process from external interference, we must not hesitate to do it.
    
"But it would be worthwhile to introspect if the debate on autonomy should lose sight of the fact that the CBI and other investigating agencies are part of the executive," he said.
    
"We should be able to clearly distinguish between operational autonomy and the rules of oversight, supervision and control in organisational and institutional matters that are normal for public bodies of the executive funded by public money," Singh said.
    
The Prime Minister said it was unfortunate that the debate on autonomy has acquired political overtones.     "What is almost as distressing is that sensitive investigations are increasingly becoming subjects of running media commentary, often on the basis of material that is not otherwise in the public domain," he said.
    
"....Confidentiality is in the interests of the integrity of an ongoing investigation. This was precisely the thought process behind exempting the CBI from the RTI Act. I hope that, as responsible professionals, you will be able to reflect on this issue in the correct perspective," he said.

(Agencies)

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