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CBI-DG Assures Of Strict Compliance With Timelines, Disciplinary Action Against Erring Officials: In Calcutta High Court

Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, the director general of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), appeared before the Calcutta High Court to provide an explanation for the central agency’s delays in filing appeals in cases it is currently investigating.

In the case of Central Bureau of Investigation v. S.R. Ramamani & Ors (CRAN/2687/2018), Honourable Justice Bibek Chaudhuri had expressed displeasure at the agency filing appeals after the limitation period had passed. The Court had noted that the CBI officers were not following the CBI manual’s detailed instructions to prevent delays and ensure that appeals and revisions were filed within the allotted time.

“Each CBI officer has a set period of time during which they must pass orders to the officer above them in the chain of command. Undoubtedly, CBI officers in higher positions within the department have disregarded the directive “The judge had alleged.

Facts of the case:

On the previous date of hearing, the Court was informed that the delay was due to the time needed to obtain a certified copy of the decision being appealed against as well as the time needed to obtain the final approval from higher CBI officials in Delhi regarding whether an appeal should be filed.

The Court had stated, “This Court obviously trusts and hopes that the Central Government in its executive branch will also trust the expert opinion of the learned Additional Solicitor General more than the Director of CBI who, while having a wide range of investigative experience, does not have superior legal acumen to the Additional Solicitor General.”

The Court has previously expressed its concerns regarding the CBI’s prolonged appeal preference process. The Court refused to grant the CBI relief under Section 5 of the Limitation Act in an order dated March 23, 2022, noting that the government agency is not a privileged litigant and that no justification has been provided for why the heads of the CBI’s various offices took such an unusually long time to release the case record for the purpose of filing the appeal.

In order to allow the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of the High Court to provide his opinion on whether an appeal should be filed, Justice Chaudhuri proposed an amendment to the CBI manual. Based on the ASG’s opinion, the zonal office may be allowed to file a Memorandum of Appeal within the statute of limitations. The CBI and the Central government had also been told to submit their thoughts on the matter.

The Court requested the CBI Director’s virtual presence when the case was first heard on May 11, 2022 because it believed that the issue could not be decided without hearing from him.

The ASG clarified that the actual delay in the case at hand was only 24 days, despite claims to the contrary. The Court was further informed, with reference to a CBI circular dated March 4, 2020, that there are specific deadlines for filing an appeal, and that if these deadlines are not met, disciplinary actions, including the issuance of a show-cause notice, are taken on a case-by-case basis.

“Thus, it takes less than 30 days to set up everything and make a decision regarding whether to file the appeal or not. After that, the March 2020 circular addresses my Lords’ concerns “ASG Raju continued his assertion.

The Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of the High Court should be able to give his opinion on whether or not an appeal should be filed, and on the basis of that opinion, the zonal office may be allowed to file a Memorandum of Appeal within the statute of limitations, Justice Chaudhuri further cited his order dated April 6, 2022, in which he recommended an amendment to the CBI manual.

In response to such a suggestion, ASG Raju stated, “The central government must make the final decision. My Lord, it cannot be the ASG.”

The suggestion was clarified by Justice Chaudhuri, who said, “I’m not on board with this; I didn’t say in my order that an appeal could only be filed in accordance with an ASG directive. According to my observations, the trial court judgment may be presented to the ASG whenever an appeal must be filed before the High Court. The ASG will review the judgment and submit a report to the Director of Prosecution, CBI, and the Director will endorse no objection. The issue is that.”

The ASG responded by saying, “There may be disagreements between the ASG and the Director, in which case the Central Government is required by law to make a decision. In terms of the Delhi Special Police Act, the Central Government has the power to instruct the Prosecutor to file the appeal. Naturally, as suggested by my Lords, the Central government can take the ASG’s opinion into consideration when making a decision, and they will abide by it; there is no issue with that.”

That will be my suggestion to the Central government, Justice Chaudhuri emphasized, “to amend the circular dated March 4, 2020 suitably.”

The ASG stated that after reviewing the pertinent statutory provisions, he would think about the suggestion and report back to the Court on the next hearing date.

The judge also expressed his delight at the Director General of the CBI’s appearance in person and said aloud, “I am glad that the Director is here and that he or she has heard the pain of this Court and the learned ASG’s submission, and I ask the Director to take everything into account holistically so that your case won’t suffer in the High Court solely because of the point of limitation. We also desire a contested resolution to the case “.

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Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.

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