Longer term, better impact

News: The Government of India has brought two ordinances to extend the tenure of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) directors up to 5 years.

Must readCentre brings Ordinances to extend tenure of ED, CBI directors up to 5 years
What are the concerns associated with the ordinances?
Read more: Extension of terms of CBI, ED chiefs by ordinance goes against SC verdicts
Why the ordinance is necessary?

1. Check on frequent transfers: Earlier temporary appointments were given to favour certain individuals considered to be ‘compliant’. Seniority was often ignored in appointments, and Directors were removed frequently. A longer tenure will reduce frequent transfers. 2. Provides much-needed continuity: A two-year tenure for a CBI head is too short for any officer to make an impact on the organisation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Chief in the U.S. gets a 10-year term. In the five year term, the directors can take highly sensitive investigations which requires continuity of tenure. 3. Not targeting politicians: Only 5-10% of the cases registered by the CBI involve politicians, so the ordinance might not target political opponents as feared by oppositions.

Must readHow Enforcement Directorate (ED) became so powerful?
What should be done?

1. Drafting a CBI Act: Successive chiefs of CBI have suggested a CBI Act for the following benefits, a) To ensure the organisation is not dependent on the State governments for consent. b) Enable CBI to launch investigations from its own statute instead of depending on the Criminal Procedure Code, which makes the CBI a police organisation, c) Enable the officers to act on their own like Income Tax Act and the Customs Act.

Note: So far Eight States have withdrawn consent for the CBI to function in that State. The Court termed this a “serious issue”.

Must Read: The Issue of Withdrawal of General Consent to CBI – Explained, pointwise

2. Ensure accountability: The Director will have to keep the government informed of all major administrative decisions. He or she should inform the executive but not take orders from it, 3. Ensure a straight five-year term for the Director, instead of providing one-year extensions after mandatory two-year term as is provided in the Ordinance (the provision of one-year extensions is also susceptible to misuse).

Source: This post is based on the article “Longer term, better impact” published in The Hindu on 17th November 2021.

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