NEW DELHI: Political executive will change, but the CBI as an institution is permanent and it should remain impermeable and independent, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said on Friday, emphasising that the need of the hour is for police to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust.
For that, it has break the nexus with the political executive, he said while delivering the 19th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture of the CBI on "Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies".
At the outset, Chief Justice Ramana said: "When the Director, CBI Subodh Kumar Jaiswal came to invite me for this lecture, I told him very frankly that I may have to express some critical opinions about the functioning of the police in India. Hope he has not invited trouble by inviting me."
He said that misuse of police by political masters is not a new feature and the British deployed domination, surveillance and coercion, which remain the enduring feature of the Indian police.
The Chief Justice said given our experience with democracy so far, it is proven beyond doubt that democracy is best suited for a pluralistic society like ours. "Our rich diversity cannot be sustained through dictatorial governance. It is only through democracy that our rich culture, heritage, diversity, and pluralism can be sustained and strengthened," he added. He said "when any attempt has been made to snatch our freedom, our alert citizenry did not hesitate to seize the power back from autocrats".
"So, it is essential that all the institutions including the police and the investigative bodies uphold and strengthen the democratic values. They should not allow any authoritarian tendencies to creep in," he added.
Chief Justice Ramana said with the passage of time, like every other institution of repute, the CBI has also come under deep public scrutiny and its actions and inactions have raised questions regarding its credibility, in some cases.
"The need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust. The first step to gain the same is to break the nexus with the political executive," he said. Noting that a single incident these days gets investigated by multiple agencies, often leading to dilution of evidence, contradiction in depositions, prolonged incarceration of innocents, he said: "There is an immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, so as to bring various agencies like the CBI, SFIO, ED, etc. under one roof. This body is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions and jurisdictions. Such a law will also lead to much needed legislative oversight."
He added that it is imperative for the organization to be headed by an independent and impartial authority, to be appointed by a committee akin to the one which appoints the Director of the CBI.
"It will also save the institution from being blamed as a tool of harassment. Once an incident is reported, the organisation should decide as to which specialised wing should take up investigation," he said.
The Chief Justice said: "Ultimately, you must remember that your allegiance must be to the Constitution and the rule of law, and not to any person. The political executive will change with time. But you, as an institution, are permanent. Be impermeable and be independent. Pledge solidarity to your service. Your fraternity is your strength." He emphasised that harmonious relationships should exist between the state and central agencies, collaboration is the key, and after all, the goal of all these organisations is to secure justice. He also suggested autonomous wings for prosecution and investigation, in order to ensure total independence. (IANS)
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