CBI should be under the purview of RTI Act: Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Tuesday said the CBI should be brought back under the ambit of the Right to Information Act and it should become 'a people's partner' to combat corruption.
New Delhi: Former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Tuesday said the CBI should be brought back under the ambit of the Right to Information Act and it should become "a people's partner" to combat corruption.
Delivering the annual DP Kohli Memorial Lecture here organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Gandhi said the "RTI-trained public" won't accept corruption and "it will expect, prod and make the CBI an instrument of change".
"It is important, therefore, that the CBI establishes a partnership with the people of India," he said, addressing an audience that included former and present directors of the CBI.
"At present, the CBI and the people of India are poles apart. The CBI is clothed in opacity, then ornamented by secrecy and finally perfumed by mystery.
"This has to change," he added.
Gandhi pointed out that for a short time the CBI - the country's premier investigation agency - came under the RTI Act.
"The heavens did not fall during that time. But the triple wrappings of opacity, secrecy and mystery made it (the agency) move to be taken out of the purview of the RTI Act.
"This is a great pity. The CBI is about investigation into corruption and certain crimes. It is not (a) security or intelligence agency.
"And even if some aspects of its investigation needed protection against disclosure, there are enough provisions under the RTI Act's exemption clauses to have come to the CBI's aid.
"But to remove the CBI from the purview of the RTI Act altogether is, to my mind, not just un-transparent but unwise and ultimately harmful to the CBI's future as a people's partner in the resistance to corruption and crime.
"The CBI has nothing to lose and everything to gain by partnering (with) the pole of India," Gandhi said.
Talking about autonomy of the CBI, he said: "I want the CBI to be spectacularly autonomous. Spectacularly, but not sensationally."
"I would like the CBI not to be under the government, for then it would have no autonomy, but I would like it to be accountable to the republic.
"I would like the CBI to be under the Lok Pal, just as army is under the defence minister.
"Our defence forces are our pride because they are so very specialised, skilled and singular, but they are under civilian control.
"The director of the CBI, like an army, air force or navy chief, should be totally independent professionally but not a loose cannon," said Gandhi.
On the CBI director, Gandhi said: "The director of CBI should be a phenomenal instrument, not a self-operating robot. He and his bureau should be guardians of the law, never a law unto themselves."
"CBI investigations are often directed against very senior government officials and politicians who wield great influence.
"They have to be handled judiciously and without fear or favour that is why the CBI requires autonomy and an assurance of protection against the capriciousness of highly placed individuals.
"In the transition between today's CBI and truly autonomous CBI under a Lok Pal, the CBI should be able to say 'No, sir' or 'No, madam' to the politician giving the CBI a wrong signal or wink," said Gandhi.
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