Saturday, July 02, 2011


Among all the steps being taken towards making the Jan Lokpal Bill a reality and getting back the black money stashed overseas, we seem to be ignoring a vital cog in the wheel – one of the main central bodies responsible for tackling corruption and graft- the Central Bureau of Investigation, and I think it is high time that the government took serious steps towards its expansion and making it more efficient. As we know, the CBI is heavily understaffed. It is in dire need of more officers, but since we are already quite short of the requisite number of IPS officers in the whole nation, the pool from which CBI draws its officers is clearly inadequate. Due to the growing number of crimes of every kind in our country, it is extremely important that this shortage be met, quickly and efficiently.

Relying only on the IPS cadre for filling up their important positions has been hurting the CBI for a number of reasons, some of which may be stated as follows:

First is inadequate number of IPS officers, which has been mentioned above. Next is the problem pertaining to the IPS lobby. A couple of years ago, I read in a national daily that there are many vacancies for the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police in the CBI but they were not getting filled as the CBI was not interested in conducting any test for the purpose of selecting candidates for the aforesaid post. The reason cited was that the IPS officers in CBI wanted exclusivity in promotions and posting; i.e they wanted the officer level postings to go to them and them alone and not any other officer entering through a different route.

Furthermore, corruption in IPS and collusion of IPS officers with politicians has been severely hampering police work at all levels. No IPS officer is straightaway inducted into CBI after he passes out of the police academy. He is first posted in small districts and gradually moves up to bigger ones. As time passes, most of them turn out to be corrupt. Also, they lobby for plum postings, such as in the CBI and use political influence to get them. Now if such officers continue to be recruited into an agency meant to tackle corruption, one can easily imagine the fate of cases related to politicos and other influential personalities. Also, one can clearly understand the incompetence in the ranks (case in point-the botched up list of 50 most wanted persons handed over by the CBI to the Pakistani authorities).

According to me, independent recruitment into CBI is an essential step. It should be made mandatory that as we select officers for the IAS and allied services every year, we must have an exam exclusively for selecting officers for CBI and other intelligence services. Independent recruitment is done today as well, but for the positions lower than the rank of ASP or DSP- people who rarely progress beyond the rank of Supt. of Police. The need is to select candidates for officer level posts, who shall work at par with IPS officers and have the same powers and perks. The recruitment has to be in considerable numbers, so that not only is the shortage met, but also new offices can be opened in many more cities and efficiently managed. The independent recruits shall never be a part of law and order wing of any police department. Their only task shall be the investigation of cases pending with CBI. They could be engaged with the IB and RAW, if needed. The idea is to create an elite pool of highly trained, efficient and professional investigators who are motivated to take on the worst guys.

Moreover, with more number of competent people in the agency, the demand for granting greater autonomy to CBI (which is urgently required as well, especially to tackle anti social elements within the government), shall find a louder voice within the civil society and among the various groups fighting against corruption. If the agency is allowed to take up cases on merit, rather than only on government or court orders, many cases can be expedited to their rightful conclusion and the problems arising due to botched up investigation leading to lack of important evidence (as in the Aarushi murder case), can be avoided.

There are three main branches of the CBI- Anti Corruption Branch (ACB), Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and Special Crimes Branch (SCB). There are of course many other departments as well. The Anti Corruption and Economic offence related cases are the ones that receive the maximum attention of the CBI officials. There are some zones which do not even have any SCB units. That needs to change. In a country where the quality of investigation of criminal cases at the local police level has often been abysmal, the CBI needs to handle more of them.

I know that the above idea may be flawed. Many questions can be raised about the feasibility of it all. e.g.: how effective shall this plan be, in fighting corruption? How can the new non IPS recruits expect the kind of cooperation they require, from the IPS officers within and outside the organization, if they are opposed to the whole idea? Promotions are affected by recommendations. Will the non IPS officers get any from their IPS seniors? How There can be numerous other queries and doubts, but we cannot deny the fact that reform is urgently needed.

I obviously understand that for any of the above plans to materialize, the central and the state governments have to come together. Though this may seem to be asking too much of them, if the matter gets a wide public support, as it did in the case of The Lokpal Bill, and as it is getting in the anti-black money campaign, I think the reforms can be taken forward.

Article by:

Bhaskar Ghosh
MCA first year,
Department of Computer Applications,
Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal

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