New Delhi: The Supreme
Court Wednesday termed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a
"caged parrot" that "speaks in its master's voice" and asked the
government whether it intended to make the agency's functioning
"It is a caged parrot speaking in its master's voice," a bench
headed by Justice R.M. Lodha said, adding: "It's a sordid saga
that there are many masters and one parrot."
The court's observations came on CBI director Ranjit Sinha's
second affidavit filed on Monday stating that Law Minister Ashwani
Kumar and senior officials of the Prime Minister's Office and the
coal ministry had made certain changes in the report on the
allocation of coal blocks.
The bench also asked the government whether it was contemplating a
law to make the working of the CBI independent and insulate it
from extraneous intrusion and interferences.
There are other ways of bringing the law, Justice Lodha said,
apparently pointing to ordinance route as parliament adjourned
sine die Wednesday two days ahead of scheduled.
"The best things would be that such a law is put in place before
the next hearing of the case (July 10) so that there would be an
impartial and non-partisan independent investigating agency," the
Pointing to such a scenario, Justice Lodha said: "It would be
golden. It would really be wonderful."
Making it clear that choice was with the government, the bench,
which also included Justice Madan B.Lokur and Justice Kurian
Joseph said in case government dithered, it would step in.
"If the CBI is not made independent, we will step in," it observed
adding that "CBI must know how to stand up against all pulls and
pressures by government and its officials."
Referring to the changes in the CBI status report, the court asked
"whether central government intends to bring some law to ensure
the independence of CBI and its functional autonomy and insulate
it from extraneous influences and interferences and make it a
non-partisan investigating agency”.
The court's poser came as it said that it wanted to know the
government's position before it could embark on an exercise to
make the CBI's functioning independent and free from political and
“We would like to know the government's position before any
exercise by us to ensure that the CBI functioned effectively,
efficiently and independently particularly in cases regarding
corruption," the bench stated.
As Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court he would seek
instructions from the government on this point, the court, while
referring to its judgment in Vineet Narain case in mid-1990s -
when it had passed orders to check political and other
interferences in the CBI's working - Justice Lodha said that
“after so many years we are at the worst stage."
Asking the attorney general whether it should undertake the
exercise to make CBI independent and effective, the court asked if
government was inclined to "enact an effective law in a particular
"We want an unambiguous assurance, very clear and candid assurance
from you that law will be in place in a particular time", Justice
Lodha told Vahanvati.
The apex court also questioned the credibility of the CBI probe
into the allocation of coal blocks and asked for a thorough and
Expressing displeasure at the government's interference in the
coal allocation probe report, the court said, "the heart of the
report was changed on the suggestions of the government
Asking the government to make the investigating agency impartial,
the apex court said it needs to be ensured that the CBI functions
free of all external pressures.
It also said that the "job of CBI is not to interact with
government officials but to interrogate to find the truth".
The court said the agency "must know how to stand up against all
pulls and pressures by government and its officials."