Overburdened CBI faces staff crunch, huge gap between sanctioned strength of officers and number of vacancies

Absence of trust in India’s police system has made India’s apex investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a favourite choice for all kinds of investigative work — from murders to corruption in recruitment, and from political cases to kidnappings. At a time when the appointment of a new director keeps newsrooms busy, it would be interesting to see the problems that stare at the organisation and issues that need to be addressed.

In December last year, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the minister in charge, Jitendra Singh, informed Parliament that 2,555 cases before the CBI are pending trial for a decade. The minister informed MPs that 46 courts of special judge and 10 courts of special magistrate exclusively for trial in the CBI cases were set up.

But, more glaring is the challenge faced by the organisation when it comes to staffing. There is a shortfall of 1,530 officers ranging from those with executive duties to investigating officers. Such high pendency of cases reflects the huge gap between sanctioned strength of investigating officers and the number of vacancies. There is a need to fill in posts of 385 constables, 253 inspectors and 211 sub-inspectors.

There is a big shortfall in number of legal officers as well. According to government data, 103 posts of legal officers are vacant, 60 vacancies for public prosecutors and 34 for assistant public prosecutors.

Representational image. IBNlive

Representational image. IBNlive

Compare the grave situation that faces the CBI when it lacks adequate personnel at all levels to take up cases. However, on an average, the CBI takes up more than 1,000 cases every year. Or, 80 new cases a month. The state of Delhi has the maximum number of cases pending before the CBI, followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

While direct recruitment is a long drawn process, the CBI’s top bosses depend on state government to send officers on deputation. States though have there own challenges and refrain from freely sending their men on deputation.

Last year, the then CBI director Anil Sinha had said that if states fail to send their personnel on deputation, a time could come when the agency would collapse and fail.

Later at a meeting in New Delhi of states’ representatives, Sanjay Kothari, secretary, Department of Personnel and Training – which acts as nodal authority for administrative needs of the CBI – raised concern over increase in the number of cases undertaken by the agency.

In Delhi, just before he left office as Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung, recommended the issue of hiring of bouncers in government with higher footfall to the CBI.

Over the years the organisation has gained notoriety for being used as a “tool” by parties in power. If earlier the BJP held Congress responsible for misusing the agency, now the Congress Party accuses BJP of using the “dirty tricks department” for political ends.

These are the pertinent issues that the three-member panel lead by the prime minister need to look into while selecting the next CBI director.

The selection of the new chief is already shrouded in controversy. In December 2016, the incumbent head, Rakesh Asthana, was appointed by the Narendra Modi government without constituting a selection panel . In response to the appointment, lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan moved Supreme Court to quash the appointment, on allegations of government using completely "mala fide", "arbitrary" and "illegal" means to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director.

With the new CBI chief set to be announced soon, the task is cut out for the incoming director of India's premier investigation agency.


Published Date: Jan 16, 2017 19:18 PM | Updated Date: Jan 16, 2017 19:18 PM

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