New Delhi: The CBI on Friday night said that its autonomy of investigation has been "seriously compromised" by the provisions in the Lokpal Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday.

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A senior agency official, who did not want to be named, said financial and administrative autonomy should be granted to the CBI and the multiplicity of reporting by it should be reduced.

Officials felt that instead of giving greater autonomy to CBI, which was the stated purpose of the Civil Society agitation, its autonomy of investigation has been seriously compromised.

After the enactment of the Lokpal Bill, the CBI would be reporting to Lokpal, CVC, Department of Personnel and Training and Ministries of Home and Law. Thus, he said, instead of gaining any functional autonomy, the CBI would now be required to report to one more authority than before.

This multiplicity of reporting would be a grave impediment in effective and efficient discharge of duties by CBI. This multiplicity of supervision can be taken care of only by providing more financial, administrative and legal autonomy to CBI.

The Lokpal alone should exercise general superintendence in cases referred by them.

Top CBI sources feel that Police' powers to decide the outcome of investigation and file police report before the court must be protected.

"Section 20(7) of the Lokpal Bill provides for extension of Police Powers of taking final decision after investigation and filing police report in the competent court, to persons who are not police officers," said another official.

He said this is against the provisions of 173 of the CrPC which should not be dispensed with.

"The investigation agencies, including CBI, must continue to exercise full powers to take a final decision and file a police report before the competent court," he said.

The officials are of the view that the "process of investigation, right from registration of FIR till filing of police report, is one single continuous process and prerogative of only the police, integrity of which needs to be protected at all times to ensure quality and fair probe".

They said CBI could give a status report to the Lokpal and CVC on the outcome of investigation in respect of Lokpal and CVC referred matters as is being done in cases referred to CBI by courts.

They said that a provision can be incorporated to the effect that no court shall take cognisance of any charge sheet against a public servant in a case referred by Lokpal or CVC, except with the previous sanction of the Lokpal or CVC.

The agency wants Section 6A of DSPE Act must be repealed with Section 23 (1) of the Lokpal Act which provides for functional autonomy for registration and initiation of prosecution is applicable only to for Lokpal referred cases.

For cases taken up suo-motu by the CBI, the existing requirement of prior permission under section 6A of DSPE Act remains unchanged. The act needs to be amended to repeal this provisions, as this is one of the major impediments in pursuing investigations against public servants holding positions of the rank of Joint Secretary and above, said officials.

The agency wants that the time limit for completion of Lokpal referred cases should be increased as the present limit of six months is "unrealistic" because of complicated and
voluminous nature of cases, stay on investigation by courts, probe abroad –- delay in execution of Letters Rogatory, delay in getting expert opinions, delays due to absconding accused persons etc.

The agency feels that more autonomy should be granted to CBI as dependence on government is the main cause for public perception that CBI can be influenced and that its investigations are not immune to government's interference and pressure.

The Lokpal Bill does not propose anything substantial which could have provided for complete financial and administrative autonomy of CBI, thereby contributing in dispelling this perception, said the official.

Officials are of the view that agency's budget should be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.

The agency feels that CBI Director should be given administrative and financial powers akin to the Secretaries and should be empowered to induct officers up to the rank of
Joint Director.

Karat suggests changes in Lokpal Bill


Meanwhile, expressing dissatisfaction with various provisions of Lokpal Bill, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat on Friday suggested a number of changes in the legislation like giving the power to remove Lokpal to the Supreme Court rather than the President.
   
Karat, who was here to participate at the Left party's 20th state conference here, also suggested for reducing the number of government representatives involved in the selection process of Lokpal.
   
He said more independent members should be there in the selection committee.
   
"The ombudsman should also have its own investigative agency to probe the complaints that are brought to its notice," Karat told reporters after the meeting.
"There are talks that the power to remove the Lokpal will be given to the President. But we demand that this power should remain with the Supreme Court alone. Besides, the proposed state Lokayuktas should not be formed under a central law," he said.
   
Karat said it was interesting that neither Team Anna nor the government had given any thoughts about how to deal with the corrupt businessmen and corporate houses.
   
Giving the example of the 2G spectrum scam, Karat called for norms forcing the corporates to return the money made by them through fraudulent means to the government treasury if any such case is exposed.
   
Karat also accused the UPA government of becoming a "junior partner" of the US. He alleged that the recent decision of 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail was taken under America's pressure.
   
The CPI(M) General Secretary said the UPA government was keen on FDI during its first tenure itself, but was opposed by the Left parties, who were supporting it then.
   
Taking on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the violence in West Bengal, Karat alleged that as many as 50 CPI(M) workers have died there in political violence ever since the Trinamool Congress had come to power in the state.

(JPN/Agencies)