Part-2: MythBusters | Who is more powerful: CBI SP or a state police SP?

CBI is an enigma whose truth has been obscured from the public at large. Consequently, people have several myths about it which have been fabricated by the storytellers to engage their audience, like in movies. Well, no more! MythBusters series here is to the rescue.

This is the second part of our 3-part series of Mythbusters about CBI. If you have not read the first part, read it here:

  1. Part-1: MythBusters | Does a CBI SP enjoy facilities (bungalow, blue light vehicle, constables) like a state police SP does?

It is yet another myth that the SP of CBI is more powerful than the state police SP. The truth cannot be farther from it. While the state police SP has a real authority to take decisions independently, the CBI SP doesn’t. He is like a puppet who doesn’t run the show unlike his counterpart in the state police.

To put things in perspective, let us take file movement for example.

CBI, being a very transparent organization, has a robust mechanism of checks and balances. Each and every file in CBI passes through at least nine different levels. If a reply/appeal/petition is to be filed in the High Court or the Supreme Court, the file goes up to the Director CBI. If written in a sequence, the chain of command would be as follows:


[IO – Investigating Officer | Sr.PP – Senior Public Prosecutor | DIG – Deputy Inspector General | DLA/ALA – Deputy/Additional Legal Advisor | JD – Joint Director/IG of state police | AD – Additional Director | SD – Special Director]

The recommendation of the IO is sent up to the level of Special Director and sometimes to the Director. Every link in the chain puts down his/her comments in the file and passes it along. And its a settled truth that Nobody in CBI is immune to the repercussions of his/her decisions. Such robust mechanism was put in place by the founder of CBI Sh. D. P. Kohli at the time of its institution.

Therefore, in the pervasive sense of the word power, let alone the SP, even a DIG of CBI is not that powerful as you’d like to think.

Well, you might argue that a CBI SP is powerful as long he is supervising a case. I’d still say No. If he is just sending files up and down the ladder without an iota of final authority, how can he be said to have any power? He is just another step in the long chain of command in CBI. He doesn’t have his own independent authority to decide anything.

SP-of CBI works as a middleman between IO and DIG
Pic-1: SP of CBI works as an interface between the IO and the DIG.

In the true sense of the word, I’d say an IO is more powerful due to sheer immediacy with the case and the accused persons. It is he who investigates a case, prepares the monthly progress report (PR), the final report-1 (FR) and even the charge-sheet. The IO is the first one who recommends which of the persons should be made accused and who should be made approvers (government witness) in the charge-sheet. He has dominion over the subjects as long as they are the suspects in his case.

The truth is, the SP of CBI is so helpless that he can not even direct any state police Thana Incharge (TI) to do his bidding unless the case mandates so.

Contrast this with a state police SP. A state police SP has 5-6 police stations and their entire infrastructure and machinery at his disposal. The files of only high profile cases go above his rank. He has far more discretionary power to independently decide which case is to be taken up and which case is to be suppressed.

It’s a settled matter in CBI that as long as you are in charge of the case, you are powerful by the force of law acting on that case. Outside the case, you don’t have any authority over any person without the written permission of the court. The post of SP in CBI doesn’t have enough teeth to force its personal influence on anybody outside his dominion.

When I talk of power, I mean the authority of personal influence. If you have power only by the virtue of law, It is the law that is powerful. How can the person himself be called powerful?

SP in CBI vs SP in state police
Pic-2: SP in CBI has power as long he is bolstered by the law. SP of state police is powerful on his own authority.

Look at the pic 2. The left battery here signifies the SP of the CBI. It has power as long as it has the force of law (charging symbol here signifies the law). Now, look at the battery on the right side. This is the SP of the state police. He has the power of his own accord. He doesn’t need a power source to wield authority. He himself is the power source.

An SP of CBI has a very circumscribed authority. He cannot touch anybody outside the law but this is not the case with a state police SP. You may have heard instances where the local police arrest anybody u/s 151 of CrPC in the name of preventive detention.

Furthermore, An SP of CBI can take recourse only to a handful of sections of a few acts. An SP of the state police has entire volumes of multiple law statutes at his disposal.

Wrapping this up, I would go on to say that a CBI SP is like our ex-PM Sh. Manmohan Singh. Although sitting on a powerful and respectable post, he doesn’t wield true authority. He simply works as an interface between the different but equally important parts of a well-oiled machine called CBI.


love and best wishes!

Got a query? drop a line in comments.

Hungry for more? Also Read

  1. What are the work and the duties assigned to a sub-Inspector in CBI?
  2. Special Unit (SU): The black sheep of CBI?
  3. Part 1: Introduction to CBI Training: the best thing that ever happened to me.
  4. Part 2: Syllabus of CBI training: The most magical thing of all.
  5. Part 3: Visits and Practicals in CBI training: Once in a lifetime experience.
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