‘Release caged parrot CBI’: Madras HC tells Centre, bats for agency’s autonomy

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Updated: August 18, 2021 11:11 AM

The Madras High Court suggested bringing an Act granting statutory status with more powers and greater jurisdiction to the CBI.

The Madras High Court suggested bringing an Act granting statutory status with more powers and greater jurisdiction to the CBI. (Express Photo)

Issuing a slew of directives to the Centre to “release the caged parrot” that the CBI has supposedly become, the Madras High Court on Tuesday batted for the autonomy and independence of the central probe agency. 

The court also asked the Centre to bring an Act granting statutory status with more powers and greater jurisdiction to the agency so that it becomes “more independent” like the Election Commission and Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, reporting only to the Parliament. 

The division bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi issued a 12-point instructions aimed at overhauling of the agency while considering a CBI plea that it has been working under constrains such as shortage of manpower.

The bench observed that the autonomy of the agency could be ensured by giving it statutory powers and directed the Centre to take a decision on enactment of an Act giving more powers and jurisdiction to the central agency, stating that “the Central Government shall make CBI independent with functional autonomy without administrative control of the Government.”

The bench passed the order while refusing to grant relief in a PIL filed by the Ramanathapuram District Pathikkapattor Sangam, seeking a CBI probe into a chit fund scam.

The court has recommended a separate budgetary allocation for the CBI and suggested granting the agency director powers equivalent to that of a secretary to the government and that he will directly report to the concerned minister or the prime minister. 

It also directed the CBI director to send a detailed proposal seeking further increase in manpower and divisions within the next six weeks.

The Supreme Court was the first to call the agency a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice” in 2013 when it pulled up the then UPA government over its handling of the coal block allocations case.

The Opposition has been repeatedly targeting the present government for allegedly using the central probe agency as a political tool.

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