To prepare for INDIAN POLITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II.). Important Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) terms are important from the polity and governance perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams.

In this article, you can read about the Basics, Background, Objectives, Composition, tenure, Functions etc about Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the UPSC.


  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Later, it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
  • The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964). The CBI is not a statutory It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India.
  • It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration. It also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
  • It functions under the superintendence of the Dept. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, GoI – which falls under the PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
  • The CBI is a multidisciplinary investigation agency of the GoI and undertakes investigation of corruption- related cases, economic offences and cases of conventional crime.
  • It normally confines its activities in the anti-corruption field to offences committed by the employees of the Central Government and Union Territories and their public sector undertakings.
  • However for investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, its superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
  • The CBI acts as the “National Central Bureauof Interpol in India. The Interpol Wing of the CBI coordinates requests for investigation-related activities originating from Indian law enforcement agencies and the member countries of the Interpol.


  • Director, CBI as Inspector General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization.
  • In 2003, DSPE Act was revised on Supreme Court’s recommendation in the Vineet Narain case.
  • Till 2014, the CBI Director was appointed on the basis of the DSPE Act, 1946.



The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) amended the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (1946) and made the following changes with respect to the composition of the CBI:

  • The Central Government shall appoint the Director of CBI on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the
  • Prime Minister as Chairperson,
  • the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha
  • the Chief Justice of India or Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.
  • There shall be a Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director for conducting the prosecution of cases under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. The Director of Prosecution shall be an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the GoI. He shall function under the overall supervision and control of the Director of CBI. He shall be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission. He shall hold office for a period of two years.
  • The Central Government shall appoint officers of the rank of SP and above in the CBI on the recommendation of a committee consisting of –
  • Central Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson,
  • the Vigilance Commissioners,
  • the Secretary of the Home Ministry
  • the Secretary of the Department of Personnel.


  • In 2014, the Lokpal Act provided a committee for appointment of CBI Director:
    • Headed by Prime Minister
    • Other members – Leader of Opposition/ Leader of the single largest opposition party, Chief Justice of India/ a Supreme Court Judge.
    • Home Ministry sends a list of eligible candidates to DoPT. Then, the DoPT prepares the final list on basis of seniority, integrity, and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases, and sends it to the committee.



  • Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees.
  • Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws. However, such cases are taken up either in consultation with or at the request of the department concerned.
  • Investigating serious crimes, having national and international ramifications, committed by organised gangs of professional criminals.
  • Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces
  • Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
  • It takes up investigation of conventional crimes like murder, kidnapping, rape etc., on reference from the state governments or when directed by the Supreme Court/High Courts.



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


  • The legal powers of investigation of CBI are derived from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) 1946.
  • This Act confers concurrent and coextensive powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the members of (CBI) with Police Officers of the Union Territories
  • The Central Government may extend to any area, besides Union Territories, the powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation subject to the consent of the government of the concerned state. The CBI can investigate only such of the offences as are notified by the Central Government under the DSPE Act.


  • The CBI is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central Government before conducting any inquiry or investigation into an offence committed by officers of the rank of joint secretary and above in the Central Government and its authorities.
  • However, on May 6, 2014, the SUPREME COURT held as invalid the legal provision that makes prior sanction mandatory for the CBI to conduct a probe against senior bureaucrats in corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • A Constitution Bench held that Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which granted protection to the joint secretary and above officers from facing even a preliminary inquiry by the CBI in corruption cases, was violative of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 14 states that, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”



  • The CBI Academy is located at Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and started functioning in 1996. Earlier, training programmes were being conducted at the CBI Training Centre, New Delhi.
  • Vision – “Excellence in Training in the Fields of Crime Investigation, Prosecution and Vigilance Functioning”
  • Beside the CBI Academy at Ghaziabad, there are three regional training centres imparting training at regional levels at –
  1. Kolkata
  2. Mumbai
  3. Chennai
  • Two types of training courses –
  1. Short Term In-service Courses: For officers of the CBI, state police, central para-military forces and central government undertakings
  2. Long Term Basic Courses: For directly recruited deputy superintendents of police, sub-inspectors and constables of CBI




Primarily, State Police is responsible to maintain law and order in the state. CBI may investigate:

  • Cases which are essentially against central govt employees or concerning affairs of the Central govt.
  • Cases in which the financial interests of the central government are involved.
  • Cases relating to the breaches of central laws with the enforcement of which the GoI is mainly concerned.
  • Big cases of fraud, cheating, embezzlement and similar other cases when committed by organized gangs or professional criminals having ramifications in several States.


1. CBI mainly deals with internal issues of corruption, botched up investigations by State and local polices, extremely high religious and communal sensitive investigations. NIA is a terrorism investigation organization. It sole job is to investigate acts of terrorism and possible acts of terrorism.
2. CBI is quite a massive organization spread across the country. NIA made headlines when it started to crack down the ring of terrorist cells in West Bengal. NIA is much smaller than CBI.
3. For some State Governments CBI had to take “General Consent” NIA has a lot of power that overrides State government and even human right laws. Hence, while it was being formed, NIA faced a lot of protest.




  • Excessive political interference in its functioning.
  • It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations.
  • Credibility crisis due to recent happenings
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lack of accountability.
  • Acute shortage of personnel is a major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce, through a system of inefficient, and inexplicably biased, recruitment policies.



The landmark judgment in Vineet Narain v. Union of India in 1997 laid out several steps to secure the autonomy of CBI.


The Court directed –

  • the CBI director shall have a “minimum tenure of two years, regardless of the date of his superannuation”.
  • the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) “shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of CBI”.
  • the CVC chief shall be selected by a panel comprising the prime minister, home minister and the leader of the opposition from a panel of “outstanding civil servants”.
  • Most importantly, the Vineet Narain judgement stated that the “transfer of an incumbent Director, CBI in an extraordinary situation, including the need for him to take up a more important assignment, should have the approval of the selection committee”

CBI: A Caged Parrot?

  • Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been a work in progress for years.
  • Corruption and politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
  • CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
  • Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by government was visible in the hope of better future postings.

Saradha Chit-Fund scam

  • It is a major financial scam caused by collapse of Ponzi scheme, a collective investment scheme, run by Saradha group.
  • The group collected around Rs. 20,000-30,000 cr from over 17 lakh people in various areas of West Bengal. The scheme collapsed in 2013.

Issues with the Case

  • Conduct of CBI: WB government has alleged that CBI is working on the behest of central government to derail government in WB. CBI must seem to work more transparently and independently.
  • Conduct of WB government: The CBI while filing the contempt plea in SC said that it was stopped from performing its lawful duty by the state police and state administration. An independent and transparent investigation is needed to book the perpetrators and state government should cooperate with the agency instead of blocking it from functioning.



  • Recently, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have withdrawn the “general consent” granted to the CBI, effectively curtailing the agency’s powers in the States.

What is General Consent?

  • The CBI which is under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, will now have to approach the State government for permission for investigation on a case by case basis.
  • It is not the first time. Over the years, several states had also withdrawn consent for some time.
  • The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed.
  • Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of Andhra and Bengal.
  • Moreover, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
  • If the Supreme Court or a High Court directs that a particular investigation be handed over to the CBI, there is no need for any consent under the DSPE Act.
  • Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over Central govt departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent. Thus, it gets a general consent instead of a case-specific consent to avoid taking permission each time.
  • The general consent is normally given for periods ranging from six months to a year.

Legislative loopholes:

1. Its functions are based merely on a government resolution that draws its powers from the DPSE Act 1946.

2. Its dependence on State governments’ approval for investigation in certain cases also is a concern.


Committee suggestions:

1. The Second ARC (2007) also suggested that “a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI”.

2. The Parliamentary Standing Committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that “the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources”.

3. CBI should be vested with the required legal mandate and pan-India jurisdiction and must have powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective the state they are serving.

Administrative Hurdles:

1. The CBI does not have its own cadre and is run by officers on deputation which makes them prone to manipulation by the government of the day.

2. Additionally, lack of sufficient manpower often leads to delay in solving cases.

3. Internal conflicts such as the recent one between Director and Special Director and their public allegations against each other are a serious concern.

Manpower strengthening:

1. The CBI should develop its own cadre of officers who are not hindered by deputation issues and abrupt transfers.

2. The manpower of CBI should be enhanced for effective and timely investigation.

3. The service conditions for direct recruitment to the CBI can be improved to attract a wider talent pool.

4. The process of direct recruitment through UPSC which was stopped in 2000 can be restarted.

· Overlapping jurisdictions: There is an overlap in jurisdictions of CVC, CBI and Lokpal in certain cases leading to problems. In corruption cases the rates of conviction are just 3%. · The anti-corruption wings of CBI and CVC can be brought under Lokpal which should utilize both the organisations for investigation and prosecution. Such an integrated setup would lead to a more potent body.
· Political Pressure: The CBI has often been criticized as acting at the government’s behest. In 2013, the Supreme Court called it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”. · It should be granted more autonomy by making it accountable only to the Parliament like the office of CAG.
· Lack of Transparency: CBI is exempt from the provisions of the RTI Act of 2005 · There has been suggestion from an information commissioner that agencies like NIA, CBI, IB and paramilitary forces should come under the purview of RTI as there are adequate safeguards in the Act to keep sensitive information outside the public domain.



  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) also suggested that “a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI”.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that “the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  • CBI should be vested with the required legal mandate and pan-India jurisdiction and must have powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective the state they are serving.



CBI is exempt from the provisions of the RTI Act of 2005. There has been suggestion from an information commissioner that agencies like NIA, CBI, IB and paramilitary forces should come under the purview of RTI as there are adequate safeguards in the Act to keep sensitive information outside the public domain.


  • Statutory backing: A formal, legal framework for CBI for effective and independent functioning.
  • Checking political interference in appointment: The Lokpal Act, 2013 provides for a 3-member selection committee comprising of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition (LoP) and the Chief Justice of India for appointment of director of CBI. The procedure must be followed in letter and spirit.
  • Accountability to Parliament: Like Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), parliamentary oversight would ensure better accountability, reduce chances of political misuse, and increase its credibilty.
  • Dedicated cadre: Dedicated officers of its own without depending upon deputations. CVC provides for tenure stability of 2 years which must be respected for transparent and independent investigations as well.
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