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Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) | POLITY

What is CBI? | Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India.
  • Its job is to ensure a fair and an impartial probe. But, in October 2018, two of the top officials of the agency have been reported to be involved in a major feud. This has led the Government of India to intervene in order to restore the institutional integrity and credibility of CBI.
  • It functions under the superintendence of the Deptt. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India – which falls under the prime minister’s office.
  • It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
  • However for investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, its superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
  • Its conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.

Logo of CBI

  • Origins of CBI can be traced back to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) set up in 1941 in order to cases of bribery and corruption in War & Supply Department of India during World War II.
  • The need of a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption was felt even after the end of World War II. So, DSPE (Delhi Special Police Establishment) Act, 1946 was brought that gave legal power of investigating cases to CBI.
  • CBI is not a statutory body as it is not established by an Act of the Parliament.
  • CBI comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Various organizations under this Ministry are Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), CBI, Central Information Commission (CIC), etc.
  • CBI investigates cases related to economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and other high-profile cases.
  • CBI is exempted from Right to Information (RTI) Act similar to National Investigating Agency (NIA), National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), etc.

Functions of CBI

  • The CBI is the main investigating agency of the GOI. It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • Investigate cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws, i.e., breach of laws concerning customs and central excise, export and import control, income tax, foreign exchange regulations, etc. But cases of this nature are taken up by the CBI either at the request of the department concerned or in consultation with the concerned department.
  • The CBI is India’s representative for correspondence with the INTERPOL.
  • Its important role is to prevent corruption and maintain integrity in administration. It works under the supervision of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) in matters pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • To coordinate the activities of the various state police forces and anti-corruption agencies.
  • Investigate crimes of a serious nature, that have national and international ramifications, and committed by professional criminals or organised gangs.
  • At the behest of a state govt., the CBI can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.

Composition of CBI

  • CBI is headed by a Director, an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer of the rank of Director General of Police.
  • The Director of CBI as Inspector-General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization.
  • The director is selected based on CVC Act, 2003 for two years-term.
  • The Director of the CBI is appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Central Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson, the Vigilance Commissioners, the Secretary to the Government of India in-charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Secretary (Coordination and Public Grievances) in the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Several other ranks in CBI are filled through recruitment by SSC or deputation from Police, Income Tax Department and Customs Department.
  • The appointment procedure of CBI Director has undergone several changes over time.

Divisions of CBI

  • Administration Division
  • Special Crimes Division
  • Anti-Corruption Division
  • Economic Offences Division
  • Policy and International Police Cooperation Division
  • Central Forensic Science Laboratory
  • Directorate of Prosecution

Cases Handled by the CBI

  • Economic Crimes – for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime, bank frauds, Import Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cultural property and smuggling of other contraband items etc.
  • Anti-Corruption Crimes – for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Public officials and the employees of Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations or Bodies owned or controlled by the Government of India.
  • Suo Moto Cases – CBI can suo-moto take up investigation of offences only in the Union Territories.
  • Special Crimes – for investigation of serious and organized crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the requests of State Governments or on the orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts – such as cases of terrorism, bomb blasts, kidnapping for ransom and crimes committed by the mafia/the underworld.
  • The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order CBI to investigate a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of the State.
  • The Central Government can authorize CBI to investigate a crime in a State but only with the consent of the concerned State Government.

Problems associated with CBI

  • The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also susceptible to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers, because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
  • The agency is dependent on the home ministry for staffing, since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
  • Another great constraint on the CBI is its dependence on State governments for invoking its authority to investigate cases in a State, even when such investigation targets a Central government employee.
  • The agency depends on the law ministry for lawyers and also lacks functional autonomy to some extent.
  • Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This is a cumbersome procedure and has led to some ridiculous situations.

Why Was It Called Caged Carrot By The Supreme Court?

  • Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by government was visible in the hope of better future postings.
  • Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)has been a work in progress for years.
  • CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
  • Corruption and Politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.

Institutional Reforms Needed

  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
  • Ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  • The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  • Parliamentary standing committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality.
  • Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit.
  • It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  • A more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.
  • It is also possible to consider granting the CBI and other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys as he is only accountable to Parliament.
  • One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  • A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.


  • CBI is an agency of Central Government that has wide range of investigating areas and powers.
  • It was formed with a goal to check corruption and other crimes in the nation and so it shall maintain a clean image of itself.
  • Any agency shall have a system of checks and balances and so, intervention of Government, CVC, Courts, etc shall be done if needed.



Indian Polity

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