Need of the hour is creation of independent investigative agency: CJI Ramana

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Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on CBI’s Foundation Day said that the image of the institution of police is regrettably tarnished by allegations of corruption, police excesses, lack of impartiality, and close nexus with the political class.

He told police officers that they must remember that their allegiance must be to the constitution and the rule of law, and not to any person.

He stressed that every institution within our democracy must derive its legitimacy either directly from the Constitution, or from a law that is made in the true spirit of the Constitution.

“Unfortunately, our investigative agencies still do not have the benefit of being guided by a comprehensive law. Need of the hour is the creation of an independent and autonomous investigative agency,” he said.

Delivering the 19th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture on CBI foundation Day on ‘Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies’, the CJI said despite having many achievements to its credit, with some personnel making the supreme sacrifice, it is ironic that people hesitate to approach police in times of despair.

Justice Ramana said that in spite of the various issues affecting the Indian judiciary, the public still reposes its faith upon the institution.

This faith is largely due to the inherent autonomy and commitment to the Constitution and laws by the judiciary, 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 said.

The Director of the CBI is chosen by a high-powered committee comprising of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, and Leader of Opposition.

It will also save the institution from being blamed as a tool of harassment,” Justice Ramana said.

He said one additional safeguard that needs to be built into the scheme, is to have separate and autonomous wings for prosecution and investigation, in order to ensure total independence.

He said the truth is that no matter how deficient and non-cooperative the other institutions may be, if you all stand by your ethics and stand united with integrity, nothing can come in the way of your duty.

“This stands true for all institutions. This is where the role of leadership comes into play. The institution is as good, or as bad, as its leadership. A few upright officers can bring a revolution to the system. We can either go with the flow or we can be a role models. The choice is ours,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

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