New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should function independently of the government, at least partially, a parliamentary panel has recommended.
The 15-member committee of the upper house of Parliament, which is reviewing the contentious anti-graft Lokpal Bill, suggested that the Prime Minister should be brought under the purview of the proposed ombudsman, except in cases where national security, foreign policy, space and atomic energy are involved.
The committee has recommended that the director of the federal investigative body should be appointed by a panel, including the Prime Minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. It also recommended that the CBI should have a separate directorate of prosecution under a director who should function under the agency chief. It said the director of prosecution should be appointed by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
The CBI chief and the head of prosecution should have a fixed tenure. When the probe agency investigates the cases referred by the ombudsman, the Lokpal will monitor the progress of the inquiry. The government was unwilling to concede the opposition’s demand that the anti-graft Bill should bring the CBI within its ambit.
The house panel, which has incorporated views from all the members as different suggestions instead of terming them as dissent notes, has included the Left parties’s demand that the Lokpal should cover the private sector and the public projects undertaken in partnership with private firms.
The committee, which was also expected to evolve a consensus on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, proposed that state governments will have to set up their ombudsman through enacting laws in their respective assemblies within a year of the central law coming into force. Many opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, which was an ally of the ruling alliance till September, had opposed the draft law, saying that some of its provisions undermined India’s federal structure.
The proposed law, which was passed by the Lok Sabha, was referred to the committee in May for a detailed examination amidst stiff political opposition over several provisions.