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Central Bureau of Investigation is the premier investigating agency of Indian Government origin starting from British India. During the second world war the Special police Establishment was set up under the war department to investigate cases related to corruption and bribery, even after the war the importance of CBI was felt by the Central Government employees so under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act it transferred the superintendence of SPE to the Home Department and its function were enlarged to cover all departments of the Government of India. From 1965 the CBI investigated the Economic Offence and important conventional crimes for eg murders, kidnapping, terrorist crimes based on a selective basis. The SPE had two wings General Offence Wing and Economic Offence Wing, the GOW dealt with cases of bribery and corruption involving the employees of Central Government and public sector undertakings. The EOW has dealt with cases of violation of various economic and fiscal laws. Each branch of GOW and EOW had jurisdiction over several states.

Till 1985 the CBI was under the department of personnel and administrative reforms in the home ministry. Later a full fledged ministry was created in the name of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions with three separate departments under it. Functions of CBI includes hearing cases related to corruption, bribery and misconduct of central government employee, infringement of fiscal and economic laws that is breach of laws related to export and import control, custom and central excise, income tax, foreign exchange regulations, crimes having national and international ramifications committed by organized gang of professional criminals coordinating the activities of the anti corruption agencies and the various state police force on the request of a state government and any case related to public importance for investigation, maintaining crime statics and disseminating criminal information.


The Economic Affairs Department in 1956 formed an Enforcement unit to deal with violations of exchange control laws under the Foreign Regulation Act 1947. In later part, in 1957 it was renamed as “Enforcement Directorate” and it transfers its control to the Revenue Department. From July 2005 the ED is working for the enforcement of Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 and Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002. The functions of ED includes suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA, non realization of export proceeds, hawala transactions, purchase of assets abroad, possession of foreign currency in huge amounts, non-repatriation of foreign exchange, collects, develops and disseminates, intelligence information related to violations of FEMA it receives input from both central and state intelligence agencies Complaints, prohibition of transfer conversion, disposition or movement of property by an order issued under Money Laundering Act. Search , seizure, arrest, prosecution action and survey under PMLA, settle cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA 1973 and FEMA 1999 and to decide penalties imposed on the conclusion of settlement proceedings.


During 2013 in coalgate scam Supreme Court termed the Central Bureau of Investigation as “caged parrot (its master’s voice)” it is reported that the congress regime accused of misusing the investigation agency to shield the corrupt. Another example dates back to 2019 West Bengal chief Minister Mamta Banerjee’s accused the BJP, mentioning that saffron unit using the investigation agency under its ambit to meet its political ends. During the Lok Sabha election prime minister mocked his adversaries as the “Khan Market Gang” in a damning reference to their supposed love of the tony market complex in central Delhi’s Lutyens Bungalow Zone which is home to the national capitals high and mighty politicians, government officials, judges, businessmen, to put it in simple form the power elite. From these rows of examples we understand that irrespective of whom ever the political parties are, their complaints and accusations are the same, that the investigation agencies work only on the time of election season and it mainly concerns about certain political leaders and their profiles. Also parties claim that CBI and ED are bridging a gap between its functions and political interventions. Besides facing allegations the investigation agency has its own lags for example lack of coordination among agencies and limited flow of information from abroad hamper probes. Investigation agencies claim that they are quite successful in collecting evidence of wrongdoing within India, but it is difficult to do in abroad. Mostly delay happens in courts claim an ED official.

The ED files prosecution complaints equivalent of a police charge sheet in dedicated courts but the number of courts are increasing for example all sessions courts in Delhi are now ED courts. Most experts say that length of the case in courts depends on two factors the investigation efficiency and political intervention. Depending on the dispensation in power certain cases get pace others slow down. The tragedy of todays Investigation Agency is battle to protect political freedom will simultaneously destroy the little capacity the state has left to prevent and punish crime. Some of the big scams include infrastructure leasing & financial service (IL&FS) payment default case, PNB scam, Vijay Mallya bank loan default, Saradha chit fund scam, Rose valley chit fund case, Agusta westland WIP chopper scam, Coal blocks allocation scam, INX media case, Aircel maxis case, Sterling Biotech bank fraud, Aviation scam, ICICI bank Videocon loan scam, Hasan Ali khan money laundering scam, Tamilnadu gutka scam etc.

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