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Cabinet likely to discuss CBI autonomy

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Cabinet likely to discuss CBI autonomy
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New Delhi: The government is likely to take a view on Thursday on the suggestions made by the Group of Ministers which was constituted to suggest measures for the independence and functional autonomy of CBI.

The Group of Ministers is believed to have recommended constitution of a panel of retired judges which would monitor the investigations undertaken by the agency to ensure that these probe remain free from any influence.

Official sources said the provisions may be not be in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC as an investigating officer reports only to court and no one else could interfere in its investigations.

However, former CBI director Joginder Singh called the setting of retired judges' panel as a welcome step and said it should be implemented at the state-level as well.

He cited example of Uttar Pradesh government which wanted to withdraw charges of terrorism against minority youths but was stopped by the respective courts.

Another important recommendation made by the GoM relates to increase in the financial powers of the CBI director.

The sources said the CBI director needs more financial powers as at present they are dependent on bureaucrats for sanction of funds, however small they might be.

The Group of Ministers chaired by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and comprising Law Minister Kapil Sibal, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy had concluded its deliberations on Monday.

Its recommendations would be placed before the Cabinet today which will take a view on these.

Once the Cabinet clears the recommendations, an affidavit in this regard would be placed before the Supreme Court which would hear the matter on July 10.

The government's move to constitute the GoM came after scathing observations of the Supreme Court on the functioning of the CBI while hearing the coal blocks allocation case.

The Supreme Court had indicted CBI for being a "caged parrot" of its political masters while hearing a case related to alleged irregularities in coal blocks allocation and directed it to make an effort to come out with a law to insulate CBI from external influence and intrusion.

"...CBI has become a caged parrot. We can't have CBI a caged parrot speaking in master's voice. It is a sordid saga where there are many masters and one parrot," the Supreme Court had said during a hearing on May 6.

The court's observation had come following an affidavit from CBI director Sinha who admitted to have shared a draft coal blocks allocation probe report with former law minister Ashwani Kumar and two joint secretaries -- Shatrughna Singh and A K Bhalla -- in the Prime Minister's Office and Coal Ministry respectively.

The GoM has met for three times and is not inclined to bring drastic changes in the functioning of the CBI, government sources said.

CBI, which is probing irregularities in allocation of coal mine blocks on the direction of CVC, has so far registered 13 FIRs in the matter.

The agency has questioned two former officials as witnesses which were posted in PMO during the period 2006-09 with regards to coal blocks allocated during the period.

PTI

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