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This article is written by Anshika Gubrele, second-year B.A. LL.B student of Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune. In this article, she discusses the establishment of CBI and how it functions in the country. The author also discusses the difference between State police forces and CBI with an emphasis on the controversies that CBI was a part of in the past years.


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a premier investigating police agency in India. It serves as the main agency of the Central Government and is responsible for a wide variety of criminal and national security matters. It was established on April 1, 1963, and draws its power from the Special Police Force (SPE). Later on, it was brought under the Home Ministry of Government of India.

Being a specialised agency, CBI mainly takes up the responsibility of investigation of crimes 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 nation mainly dealing with economic and conventional offences in order to protect national security. CBI is headquartered in New Delhi. The currently serving Director is Rishi Kumar Shukla.

Historical Background

In the initial days of World War-II, the offences related to bribery and corruption were at its peak. It was soon realized by the Government of British India that there was a need to establish an agency that could especially deal with these scandalous and unscrupulous offences as the prevailing law enforcement agencies or the Police were not enough to tackle all these situations. Thus, in 1941, an order was issued by the British Indian Government to set up the Special Police Establishment which could investigate and look into the cases of bribery and corruption.

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In 1943, a Special Police Force was constituted by an ordinance of the Government and after the ordinance got lapsed on 30th September 1946, it was replaced by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. The Central Bureau of Investigation has been acquiring its power from this Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.

It was later realized by the Government that a Central Police Agency should be there that could not only handle the increasing cases of corruption and other malpractices but also fraudulent cases and crimes committed by professional criminals. Therefore, a resolution was drafted and the Central Bureau of Investigation was set up on 1st April 1963 by the Government of India.

Resolution of CBI

The resolution of CBI can be read as under –

“No. 4/31/61-T GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS New Delhi, the 1st April, 1963 RESOLUTION The Government of India have established Central Bureau of Investigation for dealing with crimes that are currently under the Delhi Special Police Establishment, including specially important cases under the Defence of India Act and Rules particularly of hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering in essential commodities, which may have repercussions and ramifications in several States; the collection of intelligence relating to certain types of crimes; participation in the work of the National Central Bureau connected with the International Criminal Police Organization; the maintenance of crime statistics and dissemination of information relating to crime and criminals; the study of specialized crime of particular interest to the Government of India or crimes having all-India or interstate ramifications or of particular importance from a social point of view; the conduct of Police research, and the coordination of laws relating to crime.

As the first step in that direction, the Government of India have decided to set up with effect from 1st April 1963 a Central Bureau of Investigation at Delhi with the following six Divisions, namely:-

  1. Investigation and Anti-corruption Division. (Delhi Special Police Establishment).
  2. Technical Division.
  3. Crime Records and Statistics Division.
  4. Research Division.
  5. Legal Division & General Division.
  6. Administration Division.

The Charter of the function of the above-said Divisions will be as given in the Annexure. The assistance of the Central Bureau of Investigation will also be available to the State Police Forces on request for investigating and assisting in the investigation of interstate crime and other difficult criminal cases.


Secretary to the Government of India”

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Organization and Composition of CBI

CBI is a federal investigation agency. Earlier, CBI had 6 divisions including:-

  1. Investigation & Anti-Corruption Division (Delhi Special Police Establishment)
  2. Technical Division
  3. Crime Records and Statistics Division
  4. Research Division
  5. Legal and General Division
  6. Administration Division

But later the existing legal division was reconstituted in July 2001, following are the 7 divisions of CBI at present:-

  1. Anti Corruption Division
  2. Economic Offences Division
  3. Special Crimes Division
  4. Directorate of Prosecution.
  5. Administration Division
  6. Policy & Coordination 
  7. Central Forensic Science Laboratory

The CBI 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.

In total, it has about 5000 staff members, 125 forensic scientists, and 250 law officers.

How CBI functions?

The CBI investigates major crimes happening around the country. It acts as the National Central Bureau of Interpol in India. The following are the functions of CBI:-

  1. Investigation of cases related to corruption, scams, and misbehaviour of central government officials
  2. Investigation of serious crimes having national and international ramifications.
  3. Maintaining crime statistics and disseminate criminal information, etc.

Provision of prior information

The CBI is required to seek prior approval of the central government before conducting an investigation into an offence committed by officers of the rank of joint secretary and higher ranked officers in the central government. However, on 6th May 2014, the Supreme Court held it as invalid under the prevention of Corruption Act.

A constitutional bench held that section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which provided protection to Joint Secretary and other higher authorities from facing even a preliminary inquiry by the CBI in any corruption case was a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

What are the differences between the Central Bureau of Investigation and State Police Forces?

  • CBI is an investigating agency dealing with the investigation of the criminal cases whereas the state police have to perform numerous other tasks as well.
  • The level of crime investigation work and supervision is much higher in the CBI than what is there In the state police forces.
  • Unlike the state police, the CBI is not needed to tackle with the general public using force whenever required.
  • CBI works under the central government and reports to PM while the State police works under the State government and reports to the Chief Minister of the particular State.
  • The tenure of the CBI director is fixed and he cannot be removed anytime before it unless the government of India permits but the Chief of State police has no such fixed tenure and can be removed by State government.

The conviction rate of CBI

Although the overall conviction rate in cases registered by the CBI was 69.02%, 65.1% and 66.8% in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively, studies have pointed out that the success ratio in corruption cases stands around a dismal of 3%. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha in December 2017, Jitendra Singh admitted that in the past four years 3,260 people booked by the CBI in various corruption cases had been acquitted. Of these, 944 people were acquitted in 2016, 821 in 2015 and 748 in 2014.


Two things are very essential for such a specialized agency to work- investigating skills and impartiality. CBI is said to be not very efficient and is called partial when it comes to dealing with crimes committed by higher ranked officers or politicians. Here is a look at some controversial things that hit CBI within the years:

  • Supreme Court calling CBI a “Caged Parrot”

In the year 2013 Supreme Court called CBI a “caged parrot” as there was clear evidence for the coal blocks allocation case which hints that the government was using the agency for their own benefits. Thus, the Supreme Court criticized the agency making the remark and stated that the CBI must know how to cope up with the government pressure and must know how to take a stand for itself.

  • Allegations against Special Director and Director of CBI

P. Singh, former CBI director, was accused of corruption and bribery by the central investigating agency and was in the headlines because of his links with controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi. The former Special Director Rakesh Asthana was also accused of corruption in 2017.

  • Bansal family suicide case

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

  • Ranjit Sinha’s Case

The then CBI chief Ranjit Sinha was accused of being involved in a corruption case. The Supreme Court asked CBI special director ML Sharma to look into the case but the investigation against Sinha is yet to be completed.

  • Sohrabuddin Case

CBI was also accused of favouring former ruling party Congress against its opposition BJP. The CBI during the investigation of Sohrabuddin case in Gujarat pressurised Geeta Johri who was also investigating the same case to falsely implicate former Gujarat Minister Amit Shah.

Central Vigilance Committee (CVC) to oversee the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

The Central Vigilance Committee shall be responsible to oversee the functioning of the CBI in order to ensure its efficient functioning while Government will also be responsible for overviewing the CBI and keeping an eye on it with respect to its mechanism to ensure impartial working. The CBI needs to inform and report to the CVC in matters related to its investigation. CVC must know what kind of cases are being taken by CBI for investigation and how is the progress of the investigation going on.

The CVC is responsible to review the progress of all pending cases moved by the CBI for sanction of prosecution of public servants, especially those in which sanction has been delayed or refused.

The Central Government shall take all measures necessary to ensure that the CBI functions effectively and efficiently. The CVC shall have a separate section in its Annual Report on the CBI’s functioning after the supervisory function is given in the hands of it.

Present Scenario

After being caught in so many controversies, CBI is appearing to be more like a train wreck in slow motion. Looking at the terrible conditions, it can be said that there is a need to change the mechanism of our institutions. The main problems of CBI can also be identified as it is not a legal entity and is used by the government to fulfil its needs (Supreme Court’s caged parrot remark).

Thus CBI needs to function impartially and effectively. For this, certain measures are essential and must be taken care of. One of the measures can be, legally defining the status and powers of the CBI and not allowing every affluent person to enjoy the exemption. Thus there is a need for CBI to undergo reform.


The Central Bureau of Investigation basically deals with cases related to matters of national security and does not interfere in trivial cases. Though being an elite force of the nation still it needs to undergo structural reforms to work efficiently. The most important reason behind this is its way of tackling politically sensitive issues with ending up to be a part of controversies.

After being called a “Caged Parrot” by the Supreme Court, it continues to disappoint people when dealing with any case against the superior. In order to obtain the public’s confidence back and restore the integrity of CBI, it needs to have financial autonomy and most importantly it must have a statutory status through legislation as provided to Comptroller and Auditor General and Election Commission of India.


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