A statutory umbrella institution to exercise independent oversight on the Central investigating agencies, the need of the hour

enforcement directorate


Smt Droupadi Murmu

President of India

Rashtrapati Bhawan

Respected Rashtrapati Ji,

Delivering the 19th D P Kohli Memorial Lecture on ‘Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies’ in April this year, Chief Justice of India (CJI), Shri N V Ramana said,

our rich diversity cannot be sustained through dictatorial governance……with the passage of time, like every other institution of repute, the CBI has also come under deep public scrutiny. Its actions and inactions have raised questions regarding its credibility in some cases… There is an immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, so as to bring various agencies like the CBI, SFIO, ED, etc. under one roof. This body is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions and jurisdictions,…… such a law will also lead to much needed legislative oversight….need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust……the first step to gain the same is to break the nexus with the political executive


In the present context, what the CJI has said assumes considerable significance, as in his words, “social legitimacy and public trust” are the necessary requirements of governance based on equity and objectivity.

Any responsible government would have taken these observations with a great deal of seriousness and acted promptly in the direction pointed by the CJI, by introducing a Bill in the Parliament to create an independent umbrella institution, directly and exclusively accountable to the legislature, to exercise independent oversight on all Central investigating agencies, so as to break the regressive nexus they have with the political executive and empower them as independent professional agencies, not subject to any direct or indirect control by the latter.

In other words, such an institutional set up should free the functionaries at all levels in those agencies from any kind of fear or anticipation that they may entertain in regard to their transfers, promotions and future career prospects.

Since the political executive by itself has not so far shown any inclination to follow up on the CJI’s eminent suggestion, I suggest that, as the highest authority under the Constitution, your office may consider making a suo moto reference to the political executive and the Parliament to act urgently in this direction.

Political interference in the functioning of the different institutions in the country has eroded their credibility, a trend that will not augur well for the future of our democracy. In order to prevent such interference and promote governance based on equitable enforcement of the law of the land, it is necessary that the suggestions made by the CJI are translated into action, without any further delay.


E A S Sarma


Former Secretary to Government of India


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