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Thursday, June 8, 2017

What is the CBI’s jurisdiction, when can it conduct raids?

CBI issued a press release clarifying its stand and explained how the raid on NDTV promoters was in consonance with the law and done with prior approvals. The provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are applicable to the officials of private banks.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has often been accused of working at the behest of the Central government. Even the Supreme Court, in 2013, had called the investigating agency as a ‘caged parrot’ and ‘its master’s voice.’ In the back drop of the raids against NDTV promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, the CBI is once again facing accusations of being partisan. In its response, the CBI issued a press release on June 6, 2017 stating how the investigation carried by the CBI in the NDTV raid was legal and in terms with the Supreme Court ruling over private bank investigations.

The NDTV promoters have been alleged of “the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters – Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy, M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank,” under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Raid on NDTV promoters and the alleged “wrongful” investigation

Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act covers investigations to be carried out by the CBI if an offence is alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 with a prior approval of the Central Government.

In the pressing matter, CBI has been accused of not having jurisdiction in cases involving private bank loans, which the CBI clarified in its statement, “the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Ramesh Gelli vs CBI of 2016, held that the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are applicable to the officials of private banks. Therefore, CBI has jurisdiction to take up investigation of the cases of private banks.”

What is the Ramesh Gelli vs CBI [WP(CRL.) NO. 167/ 2015] case?

In this case, the Supreme Court held that Section 2(c)(viii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defining “public servant” should be read with Section 46-A of Banking Regulation Act, which holds the field for the purposes of offences under the said Act.

The question in hand was to determine whether the chairman/managing director or executive director of a private bank operating under licence issued by RBI under Banking Regulation Act, 1949, held/holds an office and performed /performs public duty so as to attract the definition of ‘public servant’.

What is the jurisdiction of a CBI investigation?

Offences related to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 falls under the supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and in other matters with the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) in the Ministry of Personnel, Pension and Grievances of the Government of India.

CBI investigates cases which are essentially against Central Government employees, financial interests of the Central government, breach of Central Laws, fraud, cheating embezzlement relating to companies involving large funds, similar offences committed by organised gangs or criminals affecting several states.

It also looks into cases having interstate and international ramifications and involving several official agencies where, from all angles, it is considered necessary that a single investigating agency should be in charge of the investigation.

Are CBI arrests different from police arrests?

CBI arrests, with or without warrant, and its procedure is derived from the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1973, which applies to every police officer making an arrest where an approval from the Magistrate is required if an arrest is made with a warrant. Provisions of an arrest without a warrant are embed in Section 41 of CrPc which is also applicable to the CBI officials.

After making an arrest, CBI follows a prescribed investigative procedure governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DSPE). Stating the investigative powers to the CBI (Section 6A of the DSPE Act), the DSPE also defines the jurisdiction (Section 5) under which the institution lies.
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