|Crime branch India overview|
|Formed||1941 as the Special Police Establishment|
|Jurisdiction||Government of India|
|Headquarters||New Delhi, India|
|Motto||Industry, Impartiality, Integrity|
Vacant: 1589 (21.84%)
as on 1 Mar 2017
|Annual budget||₹802.19 crore (US$112.5 million) (FY2020-21)|
|Crime branch India executive|
|Parent crime branch India||Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Originally set up to investigate bribery and governmental corruption, in 1965 it received expanded jurisdiction to investigate breaches of central laws enforceable by the Government of India, multi-state organised crime, multi-agency or international cases. The agency has been known to investigate several economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and other cases. CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. CBI is India's officially designated single point of contact for liaison with the Interpol.
Special Police Establishment (SPE)
The Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Special Police Establishment, a Central Government Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India to investigate bribery and corruption in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India. It had its headquarters in Lahore. The Superintendent of the SPE was Qurban Ali Khan, who later opted for Pakistan during the Partition of India. The first legal adviser of the War Department was Rai Sahib Karam Chand Jain. After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate bribery and corruption by central-government employees. Sahib Karam Chand Jain remained its legal advisor when the department was transferred to the Home Department by the 1946 Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
This is DSPE's scope was enlarged to cover all departments of the Government of India. Its jurisdiction extended to the Union Territories, and could be further extended to the states with the consent of the state governments involved. Sardar Patel, first Deputy Prime Minister of free India and head of the Home Department, desired to weed out corruption in erstwhile princely states such as Jodhpur, Rewa and Tonk. Patel directed Legal Advisor Karam Chand Jain to monitor criminal proceedings against the dewans and chief ministers of those states. The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated 1.4.1963.
CBI takes shape
The CBI established a reputation as India's foremost investigative agency with the resources for complicated cases, and it was requested to assist the investigation of crimes such as murder, kidnapping and terrorism. The Supreme Court and a number of High Courts in the country also begin assigning such investigations to the CBI on the basis of petitions filed by aggrieved parties. In 1987, the CBI was divided into the following divisions: the Anti-Corruption Division, the Special Crimes Division, the Economic Offences Division, the Policy and International Police Cooperation Division, the Administration Division, the Directorate of Prosecution Division and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory Division.
D. P. Kohli
The founding director of the CBI was D. P. Kohli, who held the office from 1 April 1963 to 31 May 1968. Before this, Kohli was Inspector-general of police for the Special Police Establishment from 1955 to 1963 and held law-enforcement positions in Madhya Bharat (as chief of police), Uttar Pradesh and local central-government offices. For distinguished service, Kohli was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1967. Kohli saw in the Special Police Establishment the potential to growing into a National Investigative Agency. He nurtured the organisation during his long career as inspector general and director and laid the foundation on which the agency grew.
CBI Directors (1963–present)
|D. P. Kohli||1 April 1963||31 May 1968|
|F. V. Arul||31 May 1968||6 May 1971|
|D. Sen||6 May 1971||29 March 1977|
|S. N. Mathur||29 March 1977||2 May 1977|
|C. V. Narsimhan||2 May 1977||25 November 1977|
|John Lobo||25 November 1977||30 June 1979|
|Shri R. D. Singh||30 June 1979||24 January 1980|
|J. S. Bajwa||24 January 1980||28 February 1985|
|M. G. Katre||28 February 1985||31 October 1989|
|A. P. Mukherjee||31 October 1989||11 January 1990|
|R. Sekhar||11 January 1990||14 February 1990|
|Vijay Karan||14 February 1990||14 February 1990|
|S. K. Datta||14 February 1990||31 July 1993|
|K. V. R. Rao||31 July 1993||31 July 1996|
|Joginder Singh||31 July 1996||30 June 1997|
|R. C. Sharma||30 June 1997||31 January 1998|
|D. R. Karthikeyan (acting)||31 January 1998||31 March 1998|
|T. N. Mishra (acting)||31 March 1998||4 January 1999|
|R. K. Raghavan||4 January 1999||1 April 2001|
|P. C. Sharma||1 April 2001||6 December 2003|
|U. S. Misra||6 December 2003||6 December 2005|
|Vijay Shanker Tiwari||12 December 2005||31 July 2008|
|Ashwani Kumar||2 August 2008||30 November 2010|
|A. P. Singh||30 November 2010||30 November 2012|
|Ranjit Sinha||3 December 2012||2 December 2014|
|Anil Sinha||3 December 2014||2 December 2016|
|Rakesh Asthana (Special Director)||3 December 2016||Present (on leave)|
|Alok Verma||1 February 2017||10 January 2019|
|M. Nageshwar Rao (interim)||24 October 2018||1 February 2019|
|Rishi Kumar Shukla||2 February 2019||Present (in-charge)|
The CBI is headed by a Director, an IPS officer with a rank of Director General of Police. The director is selected by a high-profile committee constituted under The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946  as amended through The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and has a two-year term. Other ranks in the CBI which may be staffed by the IRS (Indian Revenue Service) officer and the IPS are Special Director, Additional Director, Joint Director, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Senior Superintendent of Police, Superintendent of Police, Additional Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendent of Police. Inspector, Sub-Inspector, Assistant Sub-Inspector, Head constable, Constable which are recruited through SSC or through deputation from Police, Income Tax Department and Customs Department.
Gauhati High Court had given a verdict on 6 November 2013, that CBI is unconstitutional and does not hold a legal status. However, the Supreme Court of India stayed this verdict when challenged by the central government and next hearing on this is fixed on 6 December 2013. Some legal experts believe that the ultimate solution for Indian government is to formulate a law for CBI as sooner or later the Supreme Court may hold the constitution of CBI unconstitutional.
Demand for greater autonomy
Demanding independent investigations, the CBI said that although it deferred to the government's authority in non-corruption cases, the agency felt that sufficient financial and administrative powers were required by the director (including a minimum three-year tenure to ensure "functional autonomy"). "As such, it is necessary that the director, CBI, should be vested with ex-officio powers of the Secretary to the Government of India, reporting directly to the minister, without having to go through the DoPT", the agency said, adding that financial powers were not enough and it wanted a separate budget allocation. Some form of autonomy has been granted by the Supreme Court of India to CBI when it held that CBI can prosecute senior bureaucrats without central government's permission. Indian Supreme Court also held that Section 6A of DSPE Act is unconstitutional.
Appointment Committee and Selection committee
The CBI Director is appointed, for not less than a term of 2 years, by the Appointment Committee on recommendation of Selection Committee as mentioned in DSPE Act 1946 amended through the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act 2013 and CVC Act, 2003 respectively. The Appointment Committee consists of:
- Prime Minister – Chairperson
- Leader of Opposition of Loksabha or the Leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, if the former is not present due to lack of mandated strength in the Lok Sabha - member
- Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member
When making recommendations, the committee considers the views of the outgoing director.
The Selection Committee constituted under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 nominates a certain number of names to the Appointment Committee, one among whom the Appointment Committee appoints as the CBI director. The Selection Committee consists of:
|Central Vigilance Commissioner||Chairperson|
|Secretary to the Government of India in-charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Central Government||Members|
|Secretary, Co-ordination and Public Grievances, Cabinet Secretariat||Member|
NDA government, on 25 November 2014, moved an amendment bill to do away with the requirement of quorum in high-profile committee while recommending the names, for the post of director CBI, to the central government by introducing the clause "no appointment of a (CBI) director shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy or absence of members in the panel". and to replace the LOP with leader of single largest opposition party or pre-election coalition as, as of 2019 , the LOP post in the Loksabha is vacant.
CBI headquarters is a ₹186 crore (US$26 million), 11-storey building in New Delhi, housing all branches of the agency. The 7,000-square-metre (75,000 sq ft) building is equipped with a modern communications system, an advanced record-maintenance system, storage space, computerised access control and an additional facility for new technology. Interrogation rooms, cells, dormitories and conference halls are provided. The building has a staff cafeteria with a capacity of 500, men's and women's gyms, a terrace garden, and bi-level basement parking for 470 vehicles. Advanced fire-control and power-backup systems are provided, in addition to a press briefing room and media lounge.
The CBI Academy in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh (east of Delhi) began in 1996. It is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the New Delhi railway station and about 65 km (40 mi) from Indira Gandhi International Airport. The 26.5-acre (10.7 ha) campus, with fields and plantations, houses the administrative, academic, hostel and residential buildings. Before the academy was built a small training centre at Lok Nayak Bhawan, New Delhi, conducted short-term in-service courses. The CBI then relied on state police-training institutions and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad for basic training courses for deputy superintendents of police, sub-inspectors and constables.
The Academy accommodates the training needs of all CBI ranks. Facilities for specialised courses are also made available to the officials of the state police, central police organisations (CPOs), public-sector vigilance organisations, bank and government departments and the Indian Armed Forces.
Jurisdiction, powers and restrictions
The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) and officers of the Union Territories. The central government may extend to any area (except Union Territories) the powers and jurisdiction of the CBI for investigation, subject to the consent of the government of the concerned state. Members of the CBI at or above the rank of sub-inspector may be considered officers in charge of police stations. Under the act, the CBI can investigate only with notification by the central government.
Relationship with state police
Maintaining law and order is a state responsibility as "police" is a State subject, and the jurisdiction to investigate crime lies with the state police exclusively . The CBI being a Union subject may investigate:
- Offences against central-government employees, or concerning affairs of the central government and employees of central public-sector undertakings and public-sector banks
- Cases involving the financial interests of the central government
- Breaches of central laws enforceable by the Government of India
- Major fraud or embezzlement; multi-state organised crime
- Multi-agency or international cases
However, in order to conduct such investigations within a state, the CBI is required to take prior consent from the State Government. This consent can be in the form of a 'general consent' under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, or a 'specific consent' concerning individual cases. Almost every state in India has provided the CBI with a general consent to investigate within their borders; however, on occasion, states may withdraw this general consent and require the CBI to take specific consent for individual cases.
As of 2020, five states have withdrawn their 'general consent' for the CBI to operate, and require a special consent to be granted on a case to case basis. In November 2018, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal governments withdrew general consents for the CBI to investigate, and accused the Central Government of using federal agencies to destabilise state politics. In January 2019, Chhatisgarh also withdrew general consent to the CBI. In July 2020, Rajasthan withdrew general consent to the CBI. In October 2020, Maharashtra withdrew general consent to the CBI.
High Courts and the Supreme Court
The High Courts and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to order a CBI investigation into an offence alleged to have been committed in a state without the state's consent, according to a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court (in Civil Appeals 6249 and 6250 of 2001) on 17 Feb 2010. The bench ruled:
Being the protectors of civil liberties of the citizens, this Court and the High Courts have not only the power and jurisdiction but also an obligation to protect the fundamental rights, guaranteed by Part III in general and under Article 21 of the Constitution in particular, zealously and vigilantly.— Five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India, 
the SC in CBI VS CBI case held that the power to remove/send on leave the director of CBI, vested in the selection committee, not with the central govt. SC says this verdict when CBI Director challenge the decision of central govt to send him on leave without his will.
Exemption from Right to Information (RTI)
CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted by the government on 9 June 2011 (with similar exemptions to the National Investigating Agency (NIA), the Directorate General of Income Tax Investigation and the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid)) on the basis of national security. It was criticized by the Central Information Commission and RTI activists, who said the blanket exemption violated the letter and intent of the RTI Act. The exemption was upheld in Madras High Court.
Impact and success stories
The CBI has a high conviction rate:
Major cases solved
Controversy and criticism
In 2013, Judge of the Supreme Court of India (and later Chief Justice of India) R. M. Lodha criticized the CBI for being a "caged parrot speaking in its master's voice", due to its excessive political interference irrespective of which party happened to be in power.
Because of the CBI's political overtones, it has been exposed by former officials such as Joginder Singh and B. R. Lall (director and joint director, respectively) as engaging in nepotism, wrongful prosecution and corruption. In Lall's book, Who Owns CBI, he details how investigations are manipulated and derailed. Corruption within the organisation has been revealed in information obtained under the RTI Act, and RTI activist Krishnanand Tripathi has alleged harassment from the CBI to save itself from exposure via RTI.
Normally, cases assigned to the CBI are sensitive and of national importance. It is standard practice for state police departments to register cases under its jurisdiction; if necessary, the central government may transfer a case to the CBI. The agency has been criticised for its mishandling of several scams. It has also been criticized for dragging its feet investigating prominent politicians, such as P. V. Narasimha Rao, Jayalalithaa, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav; this tactic leads to their acquittal or non-prosecution.
In January 2006 it was discovered that the CBI had quietly unfrozen bank accounts belonging to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, one of those accused in the 1986 Bofors scandal which tainted the government of Rajiv Gandhi. The CBI was responsible for the inquiry into the Bofors case. Associates of then-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi were linked to alleged payoffs made during the mid-1980s by Swedish arms firm AB Bofors, with US million in kickbacks moved from Britain and Panama to secret Swiss banks. The 410 howitzers purchased in the US million arms sale were reported to be inferior to those offered by a French competitor.
The CBI, which unfroze ₹21 crore (US$2.9 million) in a London bank in accounts held by Bofors, accused Quattrocchi and his wife Maria in 2006 but facilitated his travel by asking Interpol to take him off its wanted list on 29 April 2009. After communications from the CBI, Interpol withdrew the red corner notice on Quattrocchi.
A 1991 arrest of militants in Kashmir led to a raid on hawala brokers, revealing evidence of large-scale payments to national politicians. The Jain hawala case encompassed former Union ministers Ajit Kumar Panja and P. Shiv Shankar, former Uttar Pradesh governor Motilal Vora, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha. The 20 defendants were discharged by Special Judge V. B. Gupta in the ₹ 650-million case, heard in New Delhi.
The judge ruled that there was no prima facie evidence against the accused which could be converted into legal evidence. Those freed included Bharatiya Janata Party president L. K. Advani; former Union ministers V. C. Shukla, Arjun Singh, Madhavrao Scindia, N. D. Tiwari and R. K. Dhawan, and former Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana. In 1997 a ruling by late Chief Justice of India J. S. Verma listed about two dozen guidelines which, if followed, would have ensured the independence of the investigating agency. Sixteen years later, successive governments circumvent the guidelines and treat the CBI as another wing of the government. Although the prosecution was prompted by a public-interest petition, the cases concluded with no convictions. In Vineet Narain & Othrs v Union of India AIR 1996 SC 3386, the Supreme Court ruled that the Central Vigilance Commission should have a supervisory role over the CBI.
Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case
In this case Santosh Kumar Singh, the alleged murderer of a 25-year-old law student, was acquitted for what the judge called "deliberate inaction" by the investigating team. The accused was the son of a high-ranking officer in the Indian Police Service, the reason for the CBI's involvement. The 1999 judgment noted that "the influence of the father of the accused has been there". Embarrassed by the judgment, CBI Director R. K. Raghavan appointed two special directors (P. C. Sharma and Gopal Achari) to study the judgement. The CBI appealed the verdict in Delhi High Court in 2000, and the court issued a warrant for the accused. The CBI applied for an early hearing in July 2006; in October the High Court found Singh guilty of rape and murder, sentencing him to death.
The CBI has been accused of supporting the ruling Congress Party against its opposition, the BJP. The CBI is investigating the Sohrabuddin case in Gujarat; Geeta Johri, also investigating the case, claimed that the CBI is pressuring her to falsely implicate former Gujarat minister Amit Shah.
Sant Singh Chatwal case
Sant Singh Chatwal was a suspect in CBI records for 14 years. The agency had filed two charge sheets, sent letters rogatory abroad and sent a team to the United States to imprison Chatwal and his wife from 2–5 February 1997. On 30 May 2007 and 10 August 2008 former CBI directors Vijay Shankar and Ashwani Kumar, respectively, signed no-challenge orders on the imprisonment. Later, it was decided not to appeal their release.
This closed a case of bank fraud in which Chatwal had been embroiled for over a decade. Along with four others, Chatwal was charged with being part of a "criminal conspiracy" to defraud the Bank of India's New York branch of ₹28.32 crore (US$4.0 million). Four charges were filed by the CBI, with Chatwal named a defendant in two. The other two trials are still in progress. RTI applicant Krishnanand Tripathi was denied access to public information concerning the closed cases. The Central Information Commission later ordered the CBI to disclose the information; however, the CBI is exempt from the RTI Act (see above). Chatwal is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan.
Malankara Varghese murder case
This case concerns 5 December 2002 death of T. M. Varghese (also known as Malankara Varghese), a member of the Malankara Orthodox Church managing committee and a timber merchant. Varghese Thekkekara, a priest and manager of the Angamali diocese of the rival Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (part of the Syriac Orthodox Church), was charged with murder and conspiracy on 9 May 2010. Thekkekara was not arrested after he was charged, for which the CBI was criticised by the Kerala High Court and the media.
Bhopal gas tragedy
The CBI was publicly seen as ineffective in trying the 1984 Bhopal disaster case. Former CBI joint director B. R. Lall has said that he was asked to remain soft on extradition for Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson and drop the charges (which included culpable homicide). Those accused received two-year sentences.
2G spectrum case
The UPA government has been accused of allocating 2G spectrum to corporations at very low prices through corrupt and illegal means. The Supreme Court cited the CBI many times for its tardiness in the investigations; only after the court began monitoring its investigations were high-profile arrests made.
Indian coal allocation scam
This is a political scandal concerning the Indian UPA government's allocation of the nation's coal deposits to private companies by the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which cost the government ₹10,673.03 billion (US$150 billion). CBI director Ranjit Sinha submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court that the coal-scam status report prepared by the agency was shared with Congress Party law minister Ashwani Kumar "as desired by him" and with secretary-level officers from the prime minister's office (PMO) and the coal ministry before presenting it to the court.
2008 Noida double murder case
This is a double murder case of 14-year-old girl Aarushi Talwar and 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade from Noida, India. On 26 November 2013, Parents of girl named Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were sentenced to life imprisonment for the twin murders. In January 2014, the Talwars challenged the decision in the Allahabad High Court. The High Court's acquitted them of all charges on 12 October 2017 because of the lack of 'irresistible proof'. The Allahabad HC in its verdict said that there were loopholes in the evidence which found the parents not guilty. Court also said that CBI tampered evidences and tutored witnesses. Questions arose by nation on investigation and judgement given by CBI court.
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