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Release ‘Caged Parrot’ CBI, Ensure Its Autonomy: High Court Directs Centre

Chennai: The Madras High Court has asked the Centre to consider enacting a law which will grant statutory status to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) so that its autonomy is ensured, sans the government’s administrative control.

It was among a slew of directions the high court issued for improving functioning of CBI in an attempt to “release the caged parrot”.

In 2013, the Supreme Court had described CBI as a “caged parrot” and “its master’s voice” while citing evidence of interference in the agency’s inquiry into alleged irregularities in allocation of coalfield licences.

Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi of the Madra HC’s Madurai bench said that autonomy can be ensured only when the agency is given statutory status on the lines of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and Election Commission (EC).

The bench noted that CAG is accountable only to Parliament and that CBI should have independence, like the EC.

CBI, which has the mandate to investigate corruption and major crimes, is under administrative control of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), under the Prime Minister’s Office.

The high court sought more powers and jurisdiction for CBI, as well as separate budgetary allocation at the earliest.

The CBI director, the court suggested, should have powers like that of secretary to the government and should report directly to the Prime Minister.