Central Bureau of Investigation : Current Affairs Analysis

Sub-Topics Covered

  1. History of CBI 
  2. Delhi Special Police Establishment Act
  3. Ambit of CBI 
  4.  Who exercises supervision over CBI
  5. Crimes investigated
  6. Interpol of India
  7. Red Notice
  8. Appointment of CBI Director before the enactment of Lokpal Act
  9. Current Scenario of Appointment of CBI director
  10. Removal of CBI Director
  11. Independence of CBI
  12. Conclusion

Early History of CBI 

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
  • The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Deptt. Of India during World War II. Superintendence of the S.P.E. was vested with the War Department.
  • Even after the end of the War, the need for a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees was felt.

Delhi Special Police Establishment Act

  • The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was brought into force in 1946.
  • This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the Govt. of India.
  • The jurisdiction of the SPE extended to all the Union Territories and could be extended also to the States with the consent of the State Government concerned.
  • The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated 1.4.1963.

Ambit of CBI

  • Initially the offences that were notified by the Central Government related only to corruption by Central Govt. servants.
  • In due course, with the setting up of a large number of public sector undertakings, the employees of these undertakings were also brought under CBI purview.
  • With the nationalisation of the banks in 1969, the Public Sector Banks and their employees also came within the ambit of the CBI.

 Who exercises supervision over CBI?

  • The superintendence of CBI related to investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 lies with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and in other matters with the Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) in the Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Grievances of the Government of India.

What types of Crime CBI investigate today?

  • CBI has grown into a multidisciplinary investigation agency over a period of time. Today it has the following three divisions for investigation of crime:- 
  1.  Anti-Corruption Division – for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Public officials and the employees of Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations or Bodies owned or controlled by the Government of India – it is the largest division having presence almost in all the States of India. 
  2. Economic Offences Division – for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime. 
  3. Special Crimes Division – for investigation of serious, sensational 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.

Does CBI perform any other important function other than investigation of crime?

  • CBI has been notified as the Interpol of India.
  • As Interpol of India, CBI acts as an interface between the law enforcement agencies of India and other countries to ensure such cooperation.
  • It facilitates exchange and sharing of information by these agencies. It also gets the red notices of the fugitive criminals, wanted in India, published.
  • Besides above it also plays a role in negotiation and finalization of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) and Extradition Treaties between India and other countries. CBI also facilitates execution of Letter of Requests for Investigation in India and out of India.

What is a Red Notice?

  • It is a notice published by the Interpol Headquarters at France on the request of a member country for tracing a fugitive in a criminal case by all the law enforcement agencies of the member countries
  • If such a fugitive is traced, the requesting country is informed for taking steps for extradition of the fugitive

What role CBI Interpol plays in extradition of a fugitive?

  • CBI Interpol plays a limited role in such matters.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is the nodal agency for extradition of fugitives. CBI Interpol can help the law enforcement agencies in tracing/locating the fugitive so that it can make a formal request for extradition of the fugitive to the MEA.

Appointment of CBI director before enactment of Lokpal

  1. The CBI draws its legality from the 1946-Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE). The precursor to the CBI was the Special Police Establishment, which was India’s first agency to investigate corruption. It was set in 1946 by the British.
  2. In 1963, the Home Ministry expanded its power and changed its name to the Central Bureau of Investigation. But, it is still governed by the 1946 Act.
  3. Before the Lokpal Act was legislated, the CBI director was appointed by the DSPE Act.
  4. The CBI director was appointed on the basis of the recommendation by a panel comprising the Central Vigilance Commission as chairperson, other vigilance commissioners, Home Secretary and Secretary (Co-ordination and Public Grievances the Cabinet Secretariat).

Current Scenario of Appointment of CBI Director

  1. Now, the Lokpal Act governs the appointment of the CBI director.
  2. The CBI director is appointed by the Centre on the basis of the recommendation of a search committee comprising of the Prime Minister as the chairperson, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition.
  3. The Chief Justice of India can nominate a Supreme Court judge if he does not attend the search committee meeting.
  4. In the absence of a formal Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the leader of the floor of the largest opposition party (in present case Congress) takes part in the search committee meetings.
  5. The process of selecting the CBI director begins in the Home Ministry, which prepares a list of IPS officers, who are eligible for the post on the basis of their seniority and experience in the field of probe.
  6. The MHA list goes to the Department of Personnel, which prepares the final list on the basis of “seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of ant-corruption cases”.
  7. The search committee examines the names and sends its recommendation to the government for the appointment of CBI director. The decision of the committee could be unanimous or divided with a member recording the note of dissent.

Removal of CBI Director

  •  Vineet Narain vs Union of India case in which the court, in order to curb political influence in the functioning of the CBI, fixed the tenure of its director at two years.
  • The bench had also specified the tenure for the CBI chief noting that “the Director, CBI shall have a minimum tenure of two years, regardless of the date of his superannuation.
  • This would ensure that an officer suitable in all respects is not ignored merely because he has less than two years to superannuate from the date of his appointment.”
  • It had also laid down that “the transfer of an incumbent Director, CBI in an extraordinary situation, including the need for him to take up a more important assignment, should have the approval of the Selection Committee”.
  • As for the role and responsibilities, it had stated that the director of CBI “shall have full freedom for allocation of work within the agency as also for constituting teams for investigations.”
  • The apex court had also held that CBI’s director shall be responsible for ensuring the filing of chargesheets in courts within the stipulated time limits, and the matter should be kept under their constant review

Independence of CBI 

  • Even the bold attempt of the Supreme Court bench headed by the late and highly respected Justice J S Verma to make the CBI free from extraneous pressures of the executive in the famous Vineet Narain case (1996) has not succeeded.
  • What this case was able to achieve was to give the CBI director a fixed tenure of two years and nothing more.
  • The apex court, while hearing the report of the CBI in the coal mining rights allotment case, is once again tried to free CBI from the shackles of the government to make it a fair and impartial investigating agency. 
  • The judiciary can only give directions but not take over the executive functions of the government, or the legislative role of Parliament.
  • The lure of prestigious assignments post-retirement is too strong to resist among the falling standards of probity of our civil services.


  • Without a strong political will the CBI cannot be freed from the government’s control.
  • What we need is an anti-corruption investigating agency with a total hands-off by any executive authority in its investigative work which is a quasi- judicial function.
  • Political leadership should pass an act in Parliament to make the CBI independent

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