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People hesitate to approach police, image is tarnished due to corruption: Chief Justice

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New Delhi, Apr 01: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Friday recounted how the police system in India evolved from the British period, said with passage of time, the CBI has "come under deep public scrutiny".

Representational Image

Delivering the 19th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture of CBI on "Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies", CJI Ramana said police officers often complained of being harassed after regime change.

"People hesitate to approach Police in times of despair. Its image is tarnished due to corruption, Police excesses, lack of impartiality and close nexus with the political class. Often police officers complained of being harassed after regime change," he said.

"Police should reclaim social legitimacy & public trust by breaking nexus with the political executive and should stand by ethics and integrity. It stands true for all institutions," he added.

"Lack of infra and manpower, inhuman conditions at lowest levels, lack of modern equipment, questionable methods of procuring evidence, officers failing to abide by the rulebook and lack of accountability of officers are issues that are affecting the policing system," he further said.

"When it comes to the CBI, it possessed immense trust of the public in its initial phase. In fact, the Judiciary used to be flooded with requests for transfer of investigations to the CBI, as it was a symbol of impartiality and independence.

"Whenever the citizenry doubted the skill and impartiality of its own state police, they sought an investigation by the CBI, as they wanted justice to be done. But, with the passage of time, like every other institution of repute, the CBI has also come under deep public scrutiny. Its actions and inactions have raised questions regarding its credibility, in some cases," Justice Ramana said.

The CJI, who was speaking at the 19th D P Kohli Memorial Lecture of CBI on "Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies," said there was an "immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution for the investigating agencies to bring various agencies like CBI, SFIO, ED, etc under one roof".

Justice Ramana said the body was required to be "created under a statute" clearly defining its powers, functions, and duties. He said such a law will also need too much needed "legislative oversight" for the "upright organisation" to be headed by an "independent and impartial authority" to be appointed by a committee which appoints the director of the CBI.

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