Friday, December 13th, 2019

CBI gears up to check Economic Offences

INVC,, Mumbai,,
CBI  has been associated with investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes since the 1950’s.  In fact economic crimes are not a new phenomenon. All economic crimes have a social dimension.  That is why sometimes corruption is also called a socio-economic crime. Such crimes adversely affect not only individuals but entire families, society and the whole economy.  In the older days we had  thugee, bribery, extortion etc. which attained the dimension of economic crimes when they became widespread in society.  Even during the fourth century BC, Kautilya elaborated 40 different ways in which the King’s men could “embezzle public funds”.   Kautilya said that one of the most important duties of the King was to keep a close watch on the activities of Sahukars or big traders and businessmen.
During World War II, the problem of corruption attained alarming proportions and the then British Government in India decided to create a small outfit called “Special Staff” to deal with corruption in the war & supply departments of the Government. Corruption in the war department included procurement of stores for the war effort, bribery, pilferage of money, equipments and ration. Later on, the Railways, the department of Posts and Communications were also brought within the purview of this outfit.
As the time progressed, this Small Outfit took various forms and assumed different names like “Special Police Section”, “Special Police Establishment.  By 1943, the organization had established 11 branches at Lahore, Rawalpindi, Delhi, Calcutta,  Madras, Jabalpur, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Bangalore and Bombay. When India became independent, the Head Quarters of the outfit was shifted from Lahore to New Delhi and it started operating from North Block with the nomenclature of Delhi Special Police Establishment. Through a a Ministry of Home Affairs resolution of April 1, 1963, the name of the Delhi Special Police Establishment was changed to its current name Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI.
Thus, Government met the long-felt need for having a Central Police Agency at the disposal of the Centre to investigate not only corruption cases, but also breach of Central fiscal laws, frauds in Government departments and public sector undertakings, and other serious crimes having inter-state and international ramifications. The nationalization of Banks in 1969 brought the employees of public sector banks within the purview of CBI.
In 1861, when the Indian Penal Code was enacted it provided punishment for cheating (Section 420), criminal breach of trust (Section 409), Counterfeiting of Coins (Section 232), making and selling of adulterated drugs (Section 274 and 275), fraudulent use of weights and measures (Section 265), counterfeiting Govt. Stamps and their sale (Section 255 and 258), making and selling of fake goods (Section 481 to 489)etc,. Now, economic crimes include big bank frauds, capital market manipulations, Internet Protocol Crimes, money laundering etc.
The new types of crimes have a potential to de-stabilize the economy and the financial sector. Economic crimes scam generates huge amounts of black money thus creating a parallel economy.
The Economic Offences Wing of CBI was created in the year 1964 to deal with offences under various sections of IPC and Special Acts notified under section 3 of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.  After the Securities Scam of 1992 a need was felt for strengthening of the EOW.  Expansion and re-organization of EOW was carried out in the year 1994 and a full-fledged Economic Offences Division was established in the CBI. Today, the Economic Offences Division has several Cells such as the Banking & Securities Fraud Cells, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances, Wild Life crimes, antiquities, Fake Currency and Cyber Crimes etc.
As the economic offences are becoming complex by the day, a need has been felt to adopt multi-disciplinary investigation approach to crack them. As a result, besides the police officers, there are law officers, bank officers, chartered Accountants’, Cost and Works Accountants and forensic experts associated in investigation work.
The number of CBI cases pending trial is increasing every year on account of the huge gap between annual institution of cases and their disposal by the courts. The creation of 71 exclusive CBI courts is expected to reduce the pendency of under trial cases. Out of these, six will be located in Maharahshtra – three in Mumbai and one each in Pune, Nagpur and Amaravati. They are likely to be become functional by the end of the year.  These exclusive courts will hold day-to-day trial and avoid unnecessary adjournments. Apart from these steps for early disposal of cases in courts, CBI is also emphasizing on plea bargaining and pleading guilty by the accused.
CBI  also considers media as an important component of prevention of corruption. It has developed a well thought out media policy   to provide press briefings at five stages as per CBI Manual. These five stages are – Registration of a case/complaint, arrest of accused persons or searches, charge sheeting of the case and final outcome of the case. However, while sharing information with the public, through the media, adequate precautions need to be taken to ensure that only authentic and appropriate information as is professionally necessary is shared and the process of investigation / prosecution is not hampered.  Issues of legal rights of accused, privacy of the victims and matters of strategic and national interest also have to be kept in mind.
(*based on CBI Director Ashwani Kumar’s key-note address at the inauguration of CBI Workshop for Media on Crime and Legal reporting in Mumbai on July 10 / 880)

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