By Nishita Makkar

Published On: September 16, 2021, at 13:43 IST


Law Enforcement Agencies are generally backbone of any country. These help to maintain law and order of the nation from outside as well as inside. In India, there are various agencies that are established concerning matters of criminal and national security.

The Central Bureau of Investigation popularly known as CBI is a premier investigating police agency in India. It was established on April 1, 1963 and draws its power from the Special Police Force. Later on, it was brought under the Home Ministry of Government of India.

Being a specialized agency, the subject matter it covers the cases of national and international importance as well as of public importance. It includes investigation on the matters related to corruption by public officials and other economic offences including frauds and scandals. It does not take up cases of general and routine nature as the Police Forces.

It acts as a watchdog of the whole nation mainly dealing with economic and conventional offences in order to protect the national security. CBI has its headquarters in New Delhi. Mr. Subodh Kumar Jaiswal is currently presiding as CBI director.

What is the main functioning of CBI?

The main function of CBI relates to the investigation of different cases and scams. It collects information relating to corruption in the central government departments and central public undertakings especially. And the cases that come under corruption are generally taken under the charge of Central Vigilance Commission.

Every case under CBI starts after the complaint. The complaints should throw light on the matters of corruption, malpractices or misconduct on the part of public servants. Then comes the part of investigation in which every source and evidence are collected through the accounts, annual reports, verification surveys etc.

The complaint here can be in writing or oral or even brought under limelight through media like newspapers, social media etc. Generally, CBI does not take any state-based or people based matters but in some cases it can do so, if the case is grave, of public importance and is requested by state to interfere.

Historical Background

As we know CBI take cases of grave corruption as well as crimes and those which are of public importance. Similar situations have been responsible for the establishment of Central bureau of investigation. In the initial days of World War II, the offences relating to bribery and corruption in hype. British government that was established in India at that time realised that to curb with these scandalous and unscrupulous offences there was need of introduction of an agency that could deal with the situation specifically. The law enforcement agencies and police were not able to tackle the problems efficiently.

In this way in 1941, an order was brought up by the British government to set up the police establishment that could investigate in the cases of bribery and corruption prevailing in both private and public sector. In 1943 a Special Police Force was constituted which was replaced by Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 which gave power to central bureau of investigation.

After many years of independence, the police agency collapsed as that was not efficient in handling the malpractices by professional criminal. At last, a resolution was drafted and the Central bureau of investigation was established on 1st April 1963 by government of India.

Santhanam Committee and its recommendation

In 1962, Lal Bhadur Shastri appointed K. Santhanm to preside over the committee on anti-corruption popularly called as Santhanam committee. Various recommendations were given by this committee to fight the menace of corruption. It recommended the constitution of the Central Vigilance Commission and Administrative Vigilance Divisions in all departments and major organisations of government.

The following recommendations were taken into consideration by the government and the Central Vigilance Commission was setup in February 1964. This commission was then made a supervisor of CBI in corruption cases.

How Complex is the Structure of Central Bureau of Investigation?

As we know that, initially the Central Bureau of Investigation was a part of Ministry of Home Affairs but now it comes under the Ministry of Personnel. Hence, it means that CBI is regulated by the Union government. But in some cases, the power of charge of CBI goes in the hands of Central Vigilance Commission. It acts as a watchdog on the CBI in the case of matters related to corruption in the government departments.

It generally covers seven subject matters under its umbrella, that are:

  • Anti-corruption Division,
  • Economic Offences Division,
  • Special Crime Division,
  • Directorate of Prosecution,
  • Administration Division,
  • Policy and Coordination,
  • Central Forensic Science Laboratory,

It is headed by a Director who is assisted by a Special Director. Further, it comprises of the joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police and all other ranks of police personnel. CBI watches over international and national cases with the requests of state in the matter of public importance like in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case.

Initially, in 2012, the Central Bureau of Investigation was covered under Right to Information, Act 2005, in which by filing RTI, anybody could take access to the working of the CBI which the government thought that was against the national interest and security. Hence, CBI was exempted from the scope of RBI.

RBI is the considered to be INTERPOL of India. Interpol refers to International Criminal Police Organization which is an Intergovernmental organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and Crime control. It was founded on dated September 7th, 1923 and it’s headquarter is established in Lyon, France.

What is the Difference between the Central Bureau of Investigation and State Police Forces?

There is a lot to demarcate the working of state police and CBI. The major distinctions are given below:

  • CBI has a major role of investigation and due to which they deal with investigation of crimes whereas the state police have to perform numerous tasks as well.
  • The level of crime investigation work and supervision is much higher in the CBI that what is there in the state police forces.
  • The CBI doesn’t tackle with the issues of general public using force as the state police has to do.
  • CBI works under union government directly under Prime Minister’s Office and directly reports to him but whereas the state police work under the state government and reports to the Chief Minister of the particular state.
  • The tenure of CBI director is fixed and he cannot be removed any time before unless directed by government of India to do so which is not a case in State Police.

CBI and major Controversies

CBI has been questioned by the Supreme Court from time to time in different cases. Being an investigating agency, the most prominent things required by CBI are its impartiality, skills and autonomy. But in certain cases, CBI has seen to not going on its principles and abusing its powers especially when it came to the Union leaders and high ranked officers which led to increase in controversies by the time.

  • Vineet Narain Vs Union of India[1]

In this case, it was prima facie that CBI has been corrupted and high degree of injustice happened in the Hawala Scandal. The Apex Court in this case hit CBI as it was ascertained that no investigation was done against government’s extremely influential people. Hence, the Supreme Court stated that, “CBI has failed on its Responsibility to Investigate Allegations of Public Corruptions”.

And it was ruled that CBI’s autonomy should be ensured and for the corruption matters it has to be directed and checked under Central Vigilance Commission which should act as watchdog on the CBI.

  • Supreme Court calling CBI a “Caged Parrot”[2]

The Supreme Court described the CBI as “caged parrot” and “its master’s voice” in May 2013 while citing evidence of interference in the federal agency’s inquiry into alleged irregularities in the allocation of coalfield licences during the tenure of UPA government.

It also got alleged under corruption charges and political interference. It was also seen abusing and misusing its powers.

  • Ranjit Sinha’s Case[3]

The CBI chief Ranjit Sinha was accused of being involved in a corruption case. The Supreme Court asked CBI to special director ML Sharma to investigate the case properly but in vain. It has not been completed yet.

This shows the biasness and lack of impartiality in the investigation process of CBI. It can be said that CBI is not corruption-free within itself.

  • Bansal Family Suicide Case[4]

The case was in hype in 2016 when Former Director General of foreign affairs B.K. Bansal and his family committed suicide and it was found on the suicide notes that they accused some Central Bureau Investigation officials of threatening them.

  • Sushant Singh Rajput’s Case

Sushant Singh Rajput, a very popular actor committed suicide as per the facts in 2020. The case was considered to be most controversial in the Bollywood Industry as many political leaders as well as Bollywood actors were seemed to be involved in drug racket as well as Sushant’s death was considered to be a murder instead of suicide as per his family and fans opinion.

The case seemed to grasp a lot of public attention and hence, on request the CBI and ED were called to investigate the case.

But even after so many inquiries, no result came out. Many big celebs and political leaders were seemed to be involved[5]. But CBI remained silent on the subject that arise a lot of questions on their working and impartiality.

  • Aarushi Talwar murder Case

In this case, Ms. Aarushi Talwar daughter of Mr. Rajesh Talwar and Mrs. Nupur Talwar was found murdered in her room. On investigation her parents alleged their servant Hemraj to kill her. But after some days Hemraj’s body was also recovered from the trace of Dr. Rajesh Talwar’s house[6]. U.P. police arrested him and he was kept under the judicial custody. And for the further investigation the case was referred to CBI.

Again, in this case, CBI disappointed everyone. They found nothing due to lack of evidence and because of this, Rajesh Talwar was granted bail.

  • Vijay Mallya’s flight case

The vagueness of a lookout circular (LoC) against beleaguered tycoon Vijay Mallya from ‘block’ to ‘inform’ allowed his escape on March 2, 2016. In October 2015, the LoC was issued against Mallya on the request of CBI in the Bank Loan fraud. Immigration authorities in this case were asked to stop Mallya from leaving the country, but the agency later downgraded the LoC[7]. Mallya remains in the UK since leaving the country and investigating agencies are trying to secure his extradition. Again, in this case CBI was held irresponsible in its part.

Because of all these controversies, reputation and people’s trust on CBI has been degraded much. Various changes and guidelines have been made by Supreme Court from time to time but still there is a long way to go. The main problem of CBI can also be identified as it is not a legal entity and is used by the government to fulfil its needs. Different measures have to be taken into consideration to make the status and power of CBI, clear and to make its working efficient.


From the above, it can be concluded that the Central Bureau of Investigation deals with the matters of national security and does not get involve in trivial cases. A lot of difference has been ascertained between the working of State Police and CBI. It is also a part of Interpol that cooperates at international level to sway crimes involved between countries. The working of CBI is not up to the mark and lacks transparency, accountability and efficiency.

After various controversies and even being called as “Caged Parrot” by the Supreme Court, CBI has disappointed the whole nation and has caused distrust on its investigation among the masses. This has degraded its goodwill and it needs to take major steps to regain the trust. For this, it is important that CBI must have a financial as well as working autonomy without any political influence. Also, the process of investigation has to be made transparent as well as just and fair. 


[1] Vineet Narain and others Vs Union of India & Anothers, (1997) 1 SCC 226

[2] ROSS COLVEN AND SATARUPA BHATACHARYA, “A “caged parrot”-Supreme Court describes CBI”, (Last visited on September 12th,2021)

[3]Ranjit Sinha: Wading through controversies, ex- CBI chief had an illustrious career”, (Last visited on September 12th, 2021)

[4]Three Years On, Centre Ignores SC Notice on Bansal Family Suicide”, (Last visited on September 12th, 2021)

[5]Sushant Singh Rajput death probe: Congress questions CBI’s ‘silence’ over probe | Mumbai News”, (Last visited on September 14th, 2021)

[6]Full text of CBI closure report on Aarushi Talwar murder case: Agency couldn’t find any evidence against the culprits”, (Last visited on September 14th, 2021)

[7]Caged parrot, Bansal family suicides: When controversies hit CBI”, (Last visited on September 14th, 2021)

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