Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) [UPSC Notes for GS II]

This article will give details about the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI).

These UPSC Notes on the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) in India are aligned with the UPSC Syllabus and aspirants should prepare this topic for General Studies Paper-II.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is India’s chief investigating agency and is frequently seen in the news; hence its relevance for the IAS Mains.

IAS Exam aspirants can find more notes for UPSC Mains General Studies topics from the links given at the end of the article.

Candidates can check on the progress of their preparation by attempting the CSAT Mock Tests now!!

To complement your preparation for the upcoming exam, check the following links:

Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI)

About CBI

  • The CBI was established as the Special Police Establishment in 1941, to investigate cases of corruption in the procurement during the Second World War.
  • Later, the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption recommended the establishment of the CBI. The CBI was then formed by a resolution of the Home Affairs Ministry. The Ministry of Personnel, later on, took over the responsibility of the CBI and now it plays the role of an attached office.

Functions of CBI

  • The CBI is the main investigating agency of the GOI. It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. 
  • Its important role is to prevent corruption and maintain integrity in administration. It works under the supervision of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) in matters pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. 
  • Investigate cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws, i.e., breach of laws concerning customs and central excise, export and import control, income tax, foreign exchange regulations, etc. But cases of this nature are taken up by the CBI either at the request of the department concerned or in consultation with the concerned department.
  • Investigate crimes of a serious nature, that have national and international ramifications, and committed by professional criminals or organised gangs.
  • To coordinate the activities of the various state police forces and anti-corruption agencies.
  • At the behest of a state govt., the CBI can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
  • The CBI is India’s representative for correspondence with the INTERPOL. 

Problems associated with CBI

  • The agency is dependent on the home ministry for staffing since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service. The CBI also relies on the ministry of law for lawyers and also doesn’t have functional autonomy to some extent. 
  • The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also vulnerable to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings. 
  • Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This can lead to certain cases not being investigated and seeing a silent deadlock. Recently, states like Andhra Pradesh (consent is again given after change of government in-state) and West Bengal withdrew consent. 
  • CBI which investigates cases of national importance has been censured for its mishandling of several scams owing to political pressure. It has also been denounced for interfering in the investigation of prominent politicians, such as Jayalalithaa, P. V. Narasimha Rao, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati; this tactic leads to their acquittal or non-prosecution. Some of the examples in which CBI was misused are the Hawala scandal, Bofors scandal, 2G spectrum scam, coal scam and so on.
  • Financial independence is vital for the functioning of any organization.

To know what other problems affect the Indian Intelligence Architecture, visit the linked articles.

Aspirants must check the links provided below to prepare comprehensively for the upcoming UPSC examinations –

National Investigation Agency – NIA Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) Understanding the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)
Various Internal Security Forces In India and their Mandate Central Intelligence And Investigative Agencies In India Effectiveness of the Legal and the Judicial Systems 

Issues – CBI and RTI:

  • CBI is placed in the 2nd Schedule, Section 24 of the Right To Information Act. Sec 24 states, ‘act not to apply to certain organizations’. It provides an exception to obtaining information from intelligence and security organizations specified in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act or any information furnished by them to the government. 
  • The CBI was not one of the organizations included in the exempted category. It was much later in 2012 that the CBI was brought in. There was a purpose as to why the CBI was not brought into the ambit of the RTI- this was because the CBI was not considered to be one of those organizations which really looks into the strategic interests of India. 
  • Section 8 of the RTI Act, which guarantees various forms of exemption, begins by saying that all the information which has a strategic significance should not be disclosed. Further, since the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Research & Analysis Wing or RAW and such organizations which gather intelligence, are dealing with strategic matters and so they were from the very beginning kept in the exempt category. 
  • The CBI was never considered to be one which collects or maintains such information which are of strategic importance for the country.
  • However, the CBI made out a case that they are also investigating into all kinds of cases- and that these cases include those which are of strategic importance for India and therefore, if they would be subjected to the RTI, much of that information would go out into the public domain. The then government had agreed to this. 
  • So CBI can still be brought under the RTI with all the exemptions already protecting its important information.

To know more about Central Investigative Agencies of India, visit the linked article.

Cases Handled by the CBI

  1. Special Crimes – for investigation of serious and organized crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the requests of State Governments or on the orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts – such as cases of terrorism, bomb blasts, kidnapping for ransom and crimes committed by the mafia/the underworld.
  2. Economic Crimes – for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime, bank frauds, Import Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cultural property and smuggling of other contraband items etc.
  3. Anti-Corruption Crimes – for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Public officials and the employees of Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations or Bodies owned or controlled by the Government of India.
  4. Suo Moto Cases – CBI can suo-moto take up investigation of offenses only in the Union Territories.
    • The Central Government can authorize CBI to investigate a crime in a State but only with the consent of the concerned State Government.
    • The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order CBI to investigate a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of the State.

Issue of Consent:

  • Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This can lead to certain cases not being investigated and seeing a silent deadlock. Recently, states like Andhra Pradesh (consent is again given after change of government in-state) and West Bengal withdrew consent. 
  • There are two kinds of consent:
    • case-specific and general– Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that particular state government gives its consent. 
    • “General consent” is in general, provided to aid the CBI easily perform its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent. Or else, the bureau would need consent in all cases. 
  • As per Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act,1946, the state governments can withdraw the general consent accorded.
  • The CBI would still have the authority to probe old cases registered when general consent existed. Also, cases registered elsewhere in India, but involving people stationed in states which have withdrawn consent, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states as well. 
  • Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of states which have withdrawn consent. But, the CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to investigate people inside such states.

Director of CBI

  • Director, CBI as Inspector General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization.
  • Till 2014, the CBI Director was appointed on the basis of the DSPE Act, 1946. In 2014, the Lokpal Act provided a committee for the 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.
  • Director of CBI has been provided security of two year tenure, by the CVC Act, 2003. Know more about Central Vigilance Commission CVC on the linked page.

List of CBI Directors of India

The following tables give information about the CBI Directors through the years:

CBI Directors Tenure
D. P. Kohli 1 April 1963 – 31 May 1968
F. V. Arul 31 May 1968 – 6 May 1971
D. Sen 6 May 1971 – 29 March 1977
S. N. Mathur 29 March 1977 – 2 May 1977
C. V. Narsimhan 2 May 1977- 25 November 1977
John Lobo 25 November 1977 – 30 June 1979
R. D. Singh 30 June 1979 – 24 January 1980
J. S. Bajwa 24 January 1980 – 28 February 1985
M. G. Katre 28 February 1985 – 31 October 1989
A. P. Mukherjee 31 October 1989 – 11 January 1990
R. Sekhar 11 January 1990 – 14 February 1990
S. K. Datta 14 February 1990 – 31 July 1993
K. V. R. Rao 31 July 1993 – 31 July 1996
Joginder Singh 31 July 1996 – 30 June 1997
R. C. Sharma 30 June 1997 – 31 January 1998
D. R. Karthikeyan (acting) 31 January 1998 – 31 March 1998
T. N. Mishra (acting) 31 March 1998 – 4 January 1999
R. K. Raghavan 4 January 1999 – 1 April 2001
P. C. Sharma 1 April 2001 – 6 December 2003
U. S. Misra 6 December 2003 – 6 December 2005
Vijay Shanker Tiwari 12 December 2005 – 31 July 2008
Ashwani Kumar 2 August 2008 – 30 November 2010
A. P. Singh 30 November 2010 – 30 November 2012
Ranjit Sinha 3 December 2012 – 2 December 2014
Anil Sinha 3 December 2014 – 2 December 2016
Rakesh Asthana (Special Director) 3 December 2016 – 31 January 2017
Raaz P 1 February 2017 – 10 January 2019
M. Nageshwar Rao (interim) 24 October 2018 – 1 February 2019
Rishi Kumar Shukla 2 February 2019 – Present (in-charge)

CBI Autonomy

In the infamous Coalgate scam case, the Supreme Court raised the question of the bureau’s independence and said that “The CBI has become the state’s parrot. Only screaming, repeating the master’s voice” The SC had then asked the Centre to make the CBI impartial and said it needs to be ensured that the CBI functions free of all external pressures.

Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) (UPSC Notes – GS 2):-Download PDF Here

Aspirants can check  UPSC Notes page for free GS1, GS2, and GS 3 notes.

Frequently Asked Questions on Central Bureau of Investigation


Q 1. What is CBI and when was it established?

Ans. CBI stands for Central Bureau of Investigation, the main investigating agency of the Government of India. It was established in as the Special Police Establishment in 1941.

Q 2. What is the difference between police and CBI?

Ans. CBI works for the investigation of crimes and is a specialised agency. The police, on the other hand, is responsible for multifarious tasks.

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