Historical Background of Central Bureau of Investigation
During the period of World War II, a Special Police Establishment (SPE) was
constituted in 1941 in the Department of war of British India to deal with
allegations related to bribery and corruption in war related procurements.Later
on it was formalized as an agency of Government of India to investigate into
corruption in various wings of Government of India by enacting the Delhi
Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946. The DSPE’s scope was
enlarged to cover all departments of Govt. Of India. DSPE acquired its current
name, CBI through a home ministry resolution dated 01.04.1963. Founding
Director of CBI was D.P.Kohli.
Understanding the jurisdiction of CBI
➢ There is a ‘General Consent’ given by State Governments for CBI to
investigate case in that state. CBI gets operative jurisdiction by way of
notifications issued by the appropriate State Government and further
notified by Do&PT, Government of India under Section 5 and Section
6 of the DSPE Act, 1946.
➢ Apart from this CBI can also take up investigations when State
Government transfer cases from state police in view of their political
sensitivity gaining large media attention by way of state wise
➢ The Hon’ble High Courts and Hon’ble Supreme Court can also direct
CBI to start afresh the investigation or transfer cases from State Police
Organizations. However, Courts cannot direct investigation without
taking consent of state as per section 6 of the Act.
How does CBI investigate into a Case?
CBI follows six steps to conduct an investigation into a case which comes under
the jurisdiction as discussed earlier.
STEP 1: Plan of Investigation
• First the plan of investigation is to be made by the Investigating Officer
along with the Superintendent of Police.
• The overall sets of things which are need to be done in a case are to be
decided at before starting the investigation.
• Every details mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) under
section 154 of CrPC to be scrutinized properly.
• List of things like if any inquiry outside the territory of India are to be ,
expert opinion required are to be predecided
STEP 2: Investigate the spot of the Crime
• As defined as per the CBI manual spot of the crime can be any place
where an investigating officer can get evidence regarding the case.
• Importance of physical evidence is more in cases of rape, murder,
dacoity and so on. However, in cases of financial fraud it is not of
much importance as gathering physical evidence is quite improbable in
such cases. Track of the movement of money is a difficult task.
STEP 3: Ascertain all facts and circumstances pertaining to that case
• This step has to be carried out judicially particularly in cases relating to
embezzlement, corruption and fraud. Investing Officer can also take the
help of officer of another department to ascertain facts. This can only
be done with the approval of the Superintendent of Police.
• In such cases the Investigating Officer should not only familiarize
himself with the facts but also with the rules and regulations of the
working of Organizations.
STEP 4: Discovery and Arrest
• CBI Officer is given same power as that of a Police Officer to make an
arrest under Section 156 of CrPC.
• Order of Court though is required for making an arrest.
STEP 5: Collection of Evidence
• The step 4 comes before step 5 as it is believed that if the accused
remains in open he can tamper with the evidence.
• Various people involved in the case are examined.
• Statements are being recorded.
• Search and seizure of places take place. The situation is peculiar in
cases of financial fraud where the whole transfer of money has to be
tracked in order to collect substantial evidence.
STEP 6: Formulate Expert Opinion
• To complete investigation beyond reasonable doubt expert opinion in
that particular field can be taken.
• For instance, opinion of a tax officer in the case of financial fraud.
Concept of a “TRAP”
Particularly, in cases relation to the catching of corrupt public servants while
taking bribes a process has been devolved by CBI which is called TRAP. It is
not a legal term. The evidence collected while conducting the trap is placed
before the court and included in chargesheet. As per Section 7 of the Prevention
of Corruption Act, 1988 sheer demand of bribe is also a punishable offence.
Trial Proceedings of CBI through leading cases
State of West Bengal &Ors. v. The Committee for Protection of Democratic
Rights, West Bengal &Ors, CIVIL APPEAL NOS.6249-6250 0F 2001
• Supreme Court in this judgment observed that the High Court in
exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution
can give power to the CBI to investigate a case without taking
prior consent of the State Government. This will not violate
section 6 under the DSPE Act,1946. It will neither impugne the
doctrine of separation of powers between the Centre and the States.
• The Supreme Court also observed that the power should be exercised
by Courts carefully. There should not be grant to CBI for conducting
investigation on a routine basis but the Courts should only exercise
jurisdiction on an exceptional basis.
In the infamous Shardha Scam Case, Supreme Court directed the
transfer of cases of cases registered against the Shardha Group of
Companies and any such company to the CBI. The cases involved
chit fund deposit across several parts in Eastern part of the country
there was a fraud of about 20,00,00,000/-. 25 lakh claims were
lodged by the depositors against the inquiry committee setup by
states of West Bengal and Odisha.
• The court also made a reference to Hussainara Khatoon v Home
Secretary where giving speedy trial was a contractual obligation on
the part of the state.
Sajjan Kumar vs CBI 9 SCC 368
• Sajjan Kumar, prime accused in the 1984 Sikh riots was granted
acquittal by trial court in 2013. The decision was challenged by
CBI in High Court. High Court had set aside the order of
• The appeal was made in Supreme Court and matter is still
pending before the court.
CBI vs State of Rajasthan (2001) 3 SCC 333: 2001 Cri LJ 968: AIR 2001
• In this case Supreme Court decided that section 156(3) of CrPC
Empowers magistrate to direct a police officer in charge of a
station to start investigation over which the magistrate has
• Such power of magistrate does not extend beyond officer in
charge of a station under section 156(3) to conduct investigation.
• So Magistrate under section 156(3) is not entitled to direct CBI
to conduct investigation under his powers.
Vineet Narain & Othrs v Union of India AIR 1996 SC 3386
• Siting the happenings in the Hawala Scandal case where former
Union ministers Ajit Kumar Panja and P. Shiv Shankar, former Uttar
Pradesh governor Motilal Vora, Bharatiya Janata Party leader
Yashwant Sinha were encompassed, 20 defendants were discharged by
Special Judge V. B. Gupta in the ₹ 650-million case, heard in New
• In 1997 a ruling by late Chief Justice of India J. S. Verma listed about
two dozen guidelines which, if followed, would have ensured the
independence of the investigating agency.
• Also in this case Supreme Court passed a judgment that Central
Vigilance Commission has supervisory powers over the CBI.
Sister Abhaya’s Case
• A special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram has found Father Thomas
Kottoor and Sister Sephy guilty in the case pertaining to the murder
of Catholic nun Abhaya, and sentenced them to life in prison. Kottoor,
69, and Sephy, 55, were charged under Section 302 (murder) and
Section 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
• This case was the longest running murder trial which went on for 28
years. CBI made 5 failed attempts after finally getting the accused
In our Country where there are rampant cases of corruption only a few are given
to the CBI and after the CBI’s finding of declaring a person guilty most of them
get acquitted in the court of law. The terrible discernment about the partiality of
these bodies due to the extension of politics is also a matter of concern. Along
with the strengthening of the CBI, weakness in process, the relevant law and
other institutions must also be corrected.
- DSPE Bare Act , 1946
- Central Bureau of Investigation- Wikipedia
- CBI manual 2020
- Fore case laws – Indiankanoon.org
- NUALS LAW JOURNAL