CBI and The Power of its Officers

The Central Bureau of Investigation is a police investigation agency of India. Its legal powers come from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 according to which CBI can only investigate those offences which have a connection to the matter concerning Central Government and its departments. The agency of CBI is confined to the Capital region i.e. New Delhi and NCR, and to the Union Territories of India. They can only function outside these territories only when they have consent from the state in which they want to investigate.

Head of CBI is a Director who is generally assisted by a Special or Additional Director. These directors are responsible for the administration of CBI. They generally have two-year tenure in their office and their appointment and removal are decided by Central Vigilance Commission  Act.

This CVC Act came from a landmark case- Vineet Narain and Ors. v. Union of India, 1997, in which Vineet Narain, raised his concerns regarding the Hawala scandal in which CBI was involved by not doing the investigation properly. Though CVC came from this case which was against the corruption from inside the government, it never did anything important to take away the control of CBI from the government.

Section 2 of Delhi Special police Administration, Act defines the powers of the establishment of CBI. Section 2[1] states that instead of regular police, Central Government CBI for investigation in Deli or any Union territory.

CBI currently has six divisions as follows- 1. Anti-Corruption Division; 2. Special Crimes Division; 3. Economic Offence Division; 4. Directorate of Prosecution; 5. Policy and Coordination Division and; 6. Central Forensic Laboratory.

A CBI Official can never touch an honest man as their power only resides on those who are doing wrong. The powers of CBI officials are nothing in front of righteousness. It also has its direct involvement with Interpol with any crimes that they are investigating in India.

The main Function of CBI is to investigate corruption and bribery-related cases at central government level. Their objective is to keep a check on the government and its employees for any kinds of misconduct done by them. According to Section 17[a] Prevention of Corruption Act, An inspector whose power is given by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, is authorized to investigate a corruption case. A sub-inspector can never be the investigating officer in these type of cases and only inspector or officials above their rank can be investigating offices.

According to Section 18 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, only Superintendent of Police has the authority to check into the bank accounts of any person. SP cab transfers his authority to other officials below his rank to investigate these bank accounts for him.

No CBI official, including Superintendent of police, can talk to media about an ongoing investigation as it concerns with the central government and its employees and it may hamper with the ongoing investigation. Since May 2017, no CBI official is allowed to use beacon cars.

CBI official follows no special laws during the investigation. They have the same power as the State police during the investigation. The laws applied to the state police also applies to them. Even so, a CBI officer can use the sticker of police and not CBI on their vehicles as it may affect their investigation as the offender can get cautious by seeing a CBI official near them.

An official can only investigate in New Delhi and Union territories, they have no power over the state to commence their investigation unless the state agrees. They are also allowed to carry guns during the investigation as regular police. CBI officers can also arrest army personnel for their involvement in any offence concerned with the central government.

According to Section 132[2] of Income Tax Act, CBI officials can arrest any suspected individual who is thought to be committing any offence relating to Income tax and for help CBI can also call State Police or Para Military Forces.

Thought CBI is criticized for its poor investigation and mismanagement in many cases like Bofors scandal and Hawala Scandal, the honest work of CBI cannot be denied in solving the scandals like Satyam scam; INX Media Case; etc.

This article has been written by Vishwesh Tiwari of the 2nd Year BBA.LL.B. student at Jindal Global Law School.

Also Read: What to Do If Police Refuse to Register an FIR?

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