SC To Examine CBI’s Performance As Prosecuting Agency

New Delhi: In a first, the CBI will get an assessment of its performance as a prosecuting agency, after the Supreme Court decided to examine, within the ambit of investigation and prosecution, its success rate and performance in leading a case to its logical conclusion.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul directed the CBI Director to bring on record the number of cases where the central investigating agency succeeded in getting the accused convicted in the trial court and high court proceedings in the recent years.

The top court emphasised it is not sufficient for the agency to merely lodge a case and conduct investigation into it, citing that internationally the efficiency of the prosecution agency is decided by the success rate in the cases it had registered. The top court stressed the same yardstick should be applied to the CBI here.

The top court made these observations while hearing the CBI and Ministry of Home Affairs’ plea against Mohammad Altaf and Sheikh Mubarak, both belonging to Jammu and Kashmir.

In January 2020, the top court had noted that there was an inordinate delay of 542 days on part of the investigating agency in filing the special leave petition. In a January 24, 2020 order, the top court had noted that the agency took more than ten months to take a decision to file the petition.

“After the Additional Solicitor General opined on May 3, 2019 that the case is fit for filing an appeal, it takes more than three months for the case to be marked by Central Agency Section to counsel for drafting a petition. On the panel advocate submitting a draft of the special leave petition on August 31, 2019, it takes the petitioner agency two months to vet the special leave petition,” the top court had noted then.

It had then said, that, prima facie, this shows clearly gross incompetence in the CBI’s Legal Department, which raises serious questions of its efficacy to prosecute the cases and sought an affidavit.

On February 7, 2020, the top court had said the affidavit filed on behalf of the petitioner appears as a saga of gross negligence in performing duties.

“We fail to appreciate how the file remained pending for comments of the Deputy Legal Advisor in the office of Head of Branch from May 9, 2018 to January 19, 2019 i.e. no call being taken on this issue and the explanation given is that this Cell was handling over about 95 cases,” it had said then.