The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) stands as India's foremost law
enforcement agency, primarily tasked with investigations of paramount
importance. Operating under the umbrella of the Department of Personnel,
Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, under the direct purview of
the Prime Minister's Office, the CBI assumes a pivotal role.
Facilitating the Central Vigilance Commission and the Lokpal, the CBI shoulders
the responsibility of providing essential assistance in ensuring probity and
accountability in governance. Intriguingly, while its operational authority
rests with the Department of Personnel, the jurisdiction over corruption-related
offenses, in alignment with the Prevention of Corruption Act, is held by the
Central Vigilance Commission.
Beyond its domestic role, the CBI commands a central position in the global
arena, orchestrating investigation coordination on behalf of Interpol's member
nations. The agency's efficacy is notably underscored by a striking conviction
rate, ranging between 65% to 70%, which positions it on par with the finest
investigative entities globally. In essence, the CBI epitomizes the essence of
diligent and capable investigation, contributing significantly to the pursuit of
justice and the maintenance of rule of law within India and beyond.
Motto and Mission of CBI
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) stands guided by the principles of
Industry, Impartiality, and Integrity, encapsulating its core ethos. Rooted in
this ethos, its mission is resolute: to safeguard the Constitution of India and
the rule of law by conducting comprehensive investigations and ensuring the
successful prosecution of offenses.
The agency also assumes the role of providing astute leadership and guidance to
the various Police Forces across the nation. This leadership serves as a
lodestar, steering law enforcement endeavors towards the pursuit of justice and
the preservation of ethical conduct.
Beyond national boundaries, the CBI extends its mandate to foster collaborative
relationships across states and nations. By serving as the pivotal Nodal Agency,
it facilitates and strengthens cooperation in the realm of law enforcement,
transcending geographical confines and enhancing the efficacy of concerted
efforts in upholding justice and maintaining the rule of law.
Unveiling Its Historical Journey
In the backdrop of World War II, the seeds of what would become the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were sown. The year 1941 witnessed the inception
of the Special Police Establishment (SPE) within the British India's Department
of War. Tasked with probing allegations of corruption and bribery linked to
war-related procurements, this precursor marked the early phase of the agency's
Gradually, the SPE was formally institutionalized to address corruption
allegations across various segments of the Government of India. This was
achieved through the enactment of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE)
Act in 1946, granting the agency a solid legal footing.
Strikingly, the CBI's authority to conduct investigations does not stem from a
distinct statute, but rather emanates from the aforementioned DSPE Act of 1946.
This unique modality underscores the agency's distinctive operational framework.
The genesis of the CBI can be traced to the recommendations of the Santhanam
Committee on Prevention of Corruption, which operated during the period of 1962
to 1964. This committee advocated for the establishment of an investigative
entity that would specialize in tackling grave issues like corruption, thereby
laying the foundation for the CBI's creation.
In 1963, the Government of India brought the CBI into existence with a
comprehensive mandate. Designed to address an array of pressing concerns, the
agency was endowed with the authority to delve into substantial crimes such as
defense-related offenses, high-level corruption, severe fraud, embezzlement, and
social crimes encompassing hoarding, black-marketing, and profiteering in
essential commodities. Its jurisdiction spanned the entirety of India, along
with cases having inter-state implications.
As time unfolded, the CBI evolved beyond its initial purview, extending its
investigative arm to encompass a range of conventional crimes including
assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and offenses committed by extremist
factions. This transformative journey reflects the agency's dynamic
responsiveness to the evolving challenges of law enforcement.
Thus, from its origins in the crucible of World War II to its present-day
multifaceted role, the CBI stands as a testament to the evolution of
investigative institutions in India.
Range of Cases Entrusted to the CBI
The CBI takes charge of cases arising under the
Prevention of Corruption Act against public officials and employees affiliated
with the Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, as well as corporations
or entities owned or supervised by the Government of India. Its focus is set on
scrutinizing corruption allegations within these domains.
The agency assumes responsibility for investigating
substantial financial scams and critical economic frauds. This encompasses
criminal activities involving Fake Indian Currency Notes, bank frauds, cybercrimes, Import-Export and Foreign Exchange violations, as well as the
intricate domain of large-scale smuggling, spanning from narcotics and antiques
to cultural assets and contraband commodities.
Serious and Organized Offenses:
The CBI's purview extends to addressing severe
and organized crimes in accordance with the Indian Penal Code and other
pertinent legislations. This jurisdiction is often invoked upon the requests of
State Governments or the mandates of the Supreme Court and High Courts. Within
this scope lie investigations into crimes of terrorism, bomb detonations,
kidnapping for ransom, and criminal endeavors carried out by the mafia or
Suo Moto Instances:
The CBI is vested with the prerogative to initiate
investigations autonomously solely within the Union Territories.
Central Government-Authorized Cases:
With the Central Government's
authorization, the CBI can probe crimes within a state's jurisdiction. However,
this authorization necessitates the consent of the respective State Government.
In instances where the Supreme Court or High
Courts issue directives, the CBI is empowered to investigate crimes across the
nation without the necessity of obtaining the State's consent. This grant of
authority underscores the judiciary's role in ensuring impartial and thorough
In essence, the CBI undertakes a diverse array of cases, contributing to the
enforcement of justice and the maintenance of integrity within the Indian legal
Selection of the CBI Director: An Evolving Framework
Administration and Responsibilities:
The Director of the CBI, functioning as the
Inspector General of Police for the Delhi Special Police Establishment, bears
the mantle of organizational administration. Section 4 of the DPSE Act
establishes that the appointment of the Director of CBI hinges upon the Central
Government's adherence to the Committee's recommendation. This Committee bears
the responsibility of presenting a roster of officers selected from the Indian
Police Service, which is constituted under the All-India Services Act of 1951.
The Director, once appointed, is under an obligation to uphold the position for
a term spanning a minimum of two years from the date of assumption of office.
Importantly, the absence or vacancy of any member within the Committee shall not
nullify the Director's appointment.
Pre-2014 Appointment Mechanism:
Historically, till 2014, the appointment of the
CBI Director adhered to the provisions outlined in the Delhi Special Police
Establishment (DSPE) Act of 1946.
Revamping of DSPE Act:
In response to recommendations from the Supreme Court,
prompted by the Vineet Narain case in 2003, the DSPE Act underwent revisions.
These changes aimed to enhance the appointment process.
The appointment process involved a committee
featuring members from the Central Vigilance Commission and key Secretaries from
the Ministries of Home and Personnel. This committee forwarded its
recommendations to the Central Government, contributing to the selection of the
Lokpal Act Influence (2014):
The Lokpal Act, introduced in 2014, introduced a
restructured committee responsible for the CBI Director's appointment. This
committee, presided over by the Prime Minister, included the Leader of the
Opposition or the largest opposition party's leader, and the Chief Justice of
India or a Supreme Court Judge.
The Home Ministry compiles a list of eligible candidates,
forwarding it to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). The DoPT
finalizes this list based on factors like seniority, integrity, and experience
in anti-corruption case investigations. This meticulously crafted list is
subsequently submitted to the committee for their consideration.
Tenure and Amendment (CVC Act, 2003):
The Director of the CBI is accorded a
two-year term, secured by the Central Vigilance Commission Act of 2003. This
legislation ensures a certain tenure for the Director's role.
Extension Ordinances (November 2021):
In a notable development, in November
2021, the President enacted ordinances permitting the Central Government to
extend the tenures of both the CBI Director and the Enforcement Directorate's
directors from two to up to five years. These ordinances reflect an evolving
approach to leadership continuity within these investigative bodies.
DSPE Act Amendments:
Notably, amendments to the DSPE Act allow for extensions in
the Director's initial appointment period, up to a year at a time, subject to
recommendations from the committee and recorded justifications. Importantly, no
such extension can be granted once the Director's tenure reaches a cumulative
The journey of appointing the CBI Director has transformed over time, balancing
elements of expertise, accountability, and continuity to ensure effective
leadership in India's premier investigative agency.
Consent of States for CBI Investigation
In December 2021, a pivotal case caught the attention of a Supreme Court bench,
prompting the referral of a matter to the Chief Justice of India. The focus of
this case was an affidavit submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI), detailing the withdrawal of 'general consent' by numerous States. This
decision by eight States involved rescinding the CBI's authority to launch
investigations within their jurisdiction.
The foundation of this situation lies in Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police
Establishment Act of 1946, which constitutes the framework under which the CBI
operates. This statute stipulates that the State's consent is a prerequisite for
extending CBI investigations beyond the confines of Union Territories.
The CBI, in response, contends that the collective retraction of consent is
rendering its efficacy moot when it comes to investigating corruption
allegations concerning Central employees and entities functioning within the
territorial boundaries of various States.
Implications for Ongoing Investigations
It's noteworthy that the withdrawal of general consent does not impact
investigations currently underway, as established in the case of Kazi Lendhup
Dorji v. CBI (1994). Additionally, the decision does not influence cases
registered in one State, even if the investigation trail extends into the
jurisdiction of a State that has withdrawn general consent. Moreover, the power
of jurisdictional High Courts and Supreme Court to order CBI investigations
remains unaffected by this withdrawal.
Prior Judicial Precedent
The Advanced Insurance Co. Ltd case of 1970 saw a Constitution Bench deliver a
significant judgment. It affirmed that the definition of "State," as defined
within The General Clauses Act, encompasses Union Territories as well. In this
context, the CBI, established as an entity geared towards Union Territories by
the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946, possesses the authority to
conduct investigations only within the territories of States, contingent upon
This scenario highlights the intricate interplay of legal provisions, consent
dynamics, and constitutional interpretation, shaping the landscape in which the
CBI operates and investigates cases of substantial importance.
CBI Investigation - Process and Rules to Follow
After CBI has received and verified a complaint, it conducts a preliminary
enquiry into the allegations made in the complaint.
If the preliminary enquiry reveals the occurrence of a cognizable offence that
falls under the purview of the CBI's jurisdiction, a First Information Report is
recorded under Section 154 of the CrPC and CBI Investigation is initiated.
The DSPE (Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946) provides the CBI
officers with the necessary powers to investigate any case related to an offence
mentioned in Section 3 of the DSPE Act.
However, these powers are not limited to the territory of Delhi. The DSPE Act,
in Sections 5 and 6, provides that Investigating Officers � under the CBI � to
investigate cases occurring in Union Territories or other State Territories with
the consent of the Union Government or State Governments. Once consent is given,
it cannot be revoked under any circumstances.
Powers of Investigating Officer during CBI Investigation
The powers vested in the Investigating Officer during a CBI investigation are
mentioned in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
However, the powers thus conferred on CB1 are not very different from those
conferred on Police Officers under CrPC. Under Section 156 CrPC, all police
officers of and above the rank of sub-inspector (or the officers as notified by
the state government) are required to investigate an act which is a cognizable
offence. The same authority is vested in CB1 officials under Section 2 of the
DSPE Act, 1946. Similarly, the authority to authorize subordinates to go and
investigate the crime scene, entrusted to the police section I57 CrPC is granted
to CB1 officials according to Section 2(3) of the DSPE Act, 1946.
It can therefore be said that the powers and duties of the investigating officer
are the same as the powers and duties of the police officer according to
sections 153-157 of the CrPC.
- The power to summon any person to attend an investigation (provided that
the person so summoned is not under 15 years of age).
- Interrogate such witnesses, record confessions and statements, and the
If the case is against senior officers, then the case should be investigated by
the Additional Superintendent of Police and the same should be supervised by the
Senior Superintendent of Police through case diaries and case reports,
communication with investigating officers, examination of important witnesses
In cases where the accused person(s) fled the country after committing the crime
or part of the crime was committed abroad or witnesses and other material
evidence are available in a foreign country, it may be considered necessary to
conduct an investigation abroad.
While informal information/materials can be collected through Interpol and
diplomatic channels, formal investigations to collect evidence and collect
physical objects/documents can be done through a formal Letter of Request sent
through the competent court under the provisions of 166-A of the CrPC.
Diplomatic missions located in various countries abroad cannot assist in such
CBI investigations except by providing information gathered from informal
channels such as Interpol.
For countries that do not require from court a Letter of Request for conducting
such an investigation, a notification must be sent to Interpol Wing of the CBI
containing the relevant facts including various important aspects of the
investigation, which then proceeds with the investigation.
When CBI officers are sent abroad to conduct investigations in cases of utmost
importance and absolute necessity, it is important to remember that these
officers have no powers in that country.
Any act that obstructs the law in a foreign country can lead to a violation of
the country's sovereignty. In such cases, the National Central Bureau (Interpol)
of the country concerned may be requested through the Interpol Wing of CBI and
the competent authority of the country through diplomatic channels to obtain the
necessary permission/approval for the police officers to visit the country
Any work which has to be done outside the territory of India can be started only
after obtaining such permission from the appropriate authorities.
Suggestions for enhancing the Operational Effectiveness of the CBI
Decoupling from Government Control:
A critical step towards bolstering the
efficiency of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) involves disentangling
it from direct administrative influence by the ruling government. The agency's
ability to execute impartial investigations rests on its autonomy, which can
only be realized by eliminating the ruling government's authority to appoint and
relocate officials within the CBI.
Institutionalizing Statutory Standing:
To fortify the CBI's autonomy, enacting a
statute akin to the ones governing institutions like the Comptroller & Auditor
General and the Election Commission is pivotal. A legal framework of this nature
would shield the agency from political pressures and enable it to operate
independently while upholding its integrity.
Implementation of Parliamentary Committee Recommendations:
The twenty-fourth report from the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing
Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice offers valuable
insights for enhancing the CBI's operations. These recommendations encompass
augmenting the agency's human resources by expanding its workforce,
channeling investments into superior infrastructural facilities, ensuring
augmented financial resources coupled with administrative empowerment that
is met with transparency and accountability.
Furthermore, the suggestion to broaden the CBI's authority in line with the
Union, State, and Concurrent lists of the 7th schedule of the Indian
Constitution is noteworthy
Enriching Mandate and Replacing Legislation:
A pivotal stride towards a more
robust CBI entails creating a dedicated legal framework termed the "Central
Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation Act," replacing the current Delhi
Special Police Establishment Act. This shift would institute a comprehensive set
of laws outlining the agency's roles and responsibilities, effectively
addressing the current operational limitations.
In 1978, the L P Singh committee highlighted the
absence of a self-sufficient central investigative agency and recommended the
formulation of a "comprehensive central legislation" to rectify this deficiency.
This resonates with the contemporary need to establish a structured legal
charter guiding the CBI's functions.
Proposals from Administrative Reforms Commission:
In 2007, the Second
Administrative Reforms Commission reinforced the call for new legislation
governing the CBI's operations. This call underscores the necessity of an
updated legal framework tailored to the agency's evolving operational landscape.
By embracing these measures, the CBI can ascend as a self-reliant investigative
entity, dedicated to upholding principles of justice and objectivity throughout
CBI is the most prestigious investigative agency of the country having many
bright officers and officers skilled in investigative techniques. However, many
questions have been raised over its style of functioning and its extent of
independence from outside control. Some people allege that it is being used as a
tool to harass people not in good terms with the group in power and it does not
act against people close to power.
One officer who has worked in the CBI
disclosed that though they don't initiate any action into allegations against
the people in power they just keep it in record to use the same at the time
after change of power, when the ruling group sits in the opposition.
Written By: Md. Imran Wahab
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9836576565