Agency director AP Singh to appear before Parliamentary Standing Committee today; to advise against merger of anti-corruption branch with proposed Lokpal

At 4.15pm on Wednesday, when Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director AP Singh would appear before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice to put forward the bureau's views, one thing on his mind is likely to be shielding the country's premier investigation agency from
a split.

Sources in CBI have confirmed the agenda would be pushing the agency towards autonomy. "We don't have any problems with Lokpal or Jan Lokpal. Our main aim is to prevent split of CBI," a senior official said. Officials also emphasised that they don't have any problems in reporting directly to Lokpal.

Ready to serve
"We would welcome if Lokpal gives cases to us for investigations and we will report directly to them. But if anti-corruption wing of the CBI is taken away from it, the very existence of the agency will be challenged," sources said.

A detailed report to be presented before the parliamentary committee on Wednesday has been prepared. Singh is expected to make his points in a meeting expected to last about 45 minutes. Citing National Investigating Agency (NIA) as an example, senior CBI officials said that Lokpal can only be a success if CBI is with it as a whole.

Pointing out that both the government's Lokpal idea and the Jan Lokpal alternative seek autonomy and independence for CBI, the director will also argue that the ombudsman be given powers to prevent interference in the functioning of the agency. "We will also seek autonomy in things like sanction of finances, Letters Rogatory for which we have to ask permission from the government," they said. 

The idea of inducting CBI director as one of the members of Lokpal would be on the list of several issues which the director would present today. "We will see how we can fit into the scheme of things. We would also like to say that it will certainly be up to parliament to decide what is best. Any decision made by
them will be followed," CBI sources said.

Manpower crunch
CBI director AP Singh is also expected to talk about the thousands of cases which are still under trial. "More than 9,000 cases are under-trial with the CBI. A discussion on this issue is also expected to take place," sources said. Throwing some light on the other long-debated issue of making separate cadres an official said, "It is a complex issue. Reason behind this is that officers from state cadre can use their investigating skills in the CBI and then when they go back to their respective states they can benefit from the documentation which they learn with the agency. It is a win-win situation for both state cadre officers and CBI and that is why it is being postponed every time it is discussed."