CJI Chandrachud Teaches Prob Agencies, ‘Maintain Power of Balance in Search, Seizure and Privacy’

CBI, CJI DY Chandrachud

Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud emphasized the need for India’s top investigative bodies to prioritize cases related to national security and economic offenses against the nation. He was delivering 20th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture in Delhi. He remarked that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has broadened its scope, but should refocus on its core responsibilities. He emphasized the necessity for probe agencies to maintain a delicate equilibrium between their powers of search and seizure and the rights to privacy.

Focus on Corruption & Economic Offense

He said, Courts have been instrumental in strengthening the CBI. Initially, its jurisdiction was primarily focused on cases related to corruption, economic offences, and serious crimes that crossed state borders. As the years progressed, the CBI saw a significant expansion in its jurisdiction, encompassing a broader spectrum of offences. This widening scope empowered the agency to investigate diverse cases, ranging from economic frauds and bank scams to financial irregularities and terrorism-related incidents. One noteworthy instance of the CBI’s expanded purview occurred in the 1980s when it delved into the investigation of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Increasing Diversity of Cases

CJI Chandrachud acknowledged the increasing diversity of cases being handled by the CBI, expanding beyond its original anti-corruption mandate. He humorously noted that this expansion might be welcomed by lawyers due to the potential increase in case opportunities.

Jain Hawala Case

CJI Chandrachud narrated that, A pivotal moment came in 1997, with the judgement of the Supreme Court in Vineet Narain v. Union of India, popularly known as the Jain Hawala Case. This judgement reshaped the CBI’s institutional framework and laid the groundwork for its transformation into a premier investigative agency.

Kohli’s Vision to Combat Corruption

Paying tribute to DP Kohli, the inaugural CBI Director, CJI Chandrachud highlighted Kohli’s vision to combat corruption and elevate the CBI into a premier investigative agency. He stressed the importance of expediting CBI cases to ensure timely justice and mitigate harm to the accused’s reputation.

Discovery of Crime, Identification of Suspect, Collection of Sufficient Evidence

The CJI let know the Audiences that DP Kohli emphasised the importance of detection work to uncover the commission of offences. Crime detection is classified into three phases. First, the discovery that a crime has been committed. Second, the process of investigation, including identification of a suspect and thirdly the collection of sufficient evidence to indict the suspect before a court.

Fusion of Law and Technology
The CJI Emphasised on technology and said that in the age of digital evolution, we stand at a pivotal moment where the fusion of law and technology holds profound implications for the trajectory of crime detection across all stages and extends to broader realms of criminal justice reform. As our society becomes increasingly intertwined through the proliferation of digital tools, the landscape of criminal activity undergoes rapid evolution. From cybercrime and digital fraud to the exploitation of emerging technologies for illicit purposes, law enforcement entities like the CBI confront novel and intricate challenges demanding innovative approaches.

Unauthorized Data Acquisition

He Said, Adapting to the seismic shifts in crime patterns within a digitally connected world is imperative for investigative agencies to unravel complex criminal schemes. A notable instance is the CBI’s preliminary inquiry in 2018 involving illegally obtained databases and unauthorized data acquisition. These challenges are compounded by several factors. Firstly, tracing the misuse of personal data within India’s expansive digital ecosystem poses a formidable task, with data dispersed across multiple platforms, complicating efforts to trace its flow and assess its potential impact accurately. Secondly, cybercriminals employ sophisticated tactics like data encryption and anonymization, necessitating advanced forensic capabilities and specialized expertise for effective investigation. Thirdly, navigating jurisdictional complexities and securing cooperation from international entities, including social media platforms and foreign governments, poses additional obstacles that may impede the CBI’s endeavors. The transnational nature of modern crime underscores the importance of extensive coordination and collaboration with global counterparts, albeit potentially slowing down the investigative process.

Search, Secure & Individual Privacy

Addressing concerns over privacy rights amidst technological advancements, CJI Chandrachud called for a balance between investigative needs and individual privacy, especially regarding searches and seizures of personal digital devices.

Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Criminal Justice

He underscored the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in criminal justice but cautioned against its potential biases and implications for marginalized communities.

Prioritize Efforts Wisely

He urged investigative agencies to prioritize their efforts wisely, advising them to focus on critical battles rather than spreading themselves thin across various cases. Emphasizing the need to concentrate on crimes that pose threats to national security, economic well-being, and public order, Justice Chandrachud highlighted the rapidly evolving landscape of crime. He underscored the importance of enhancing the capabilities of probe agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to address these challenges, including the utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

Cybercrime and Digital Fraud

CJI Said, as our society becomes increasingly interconnected through the expansion of digital technologies, law enforcement agencies, such as the CBI, are confronted with a myriad of new and intricate challenges. From cybercrime and digital fraud to the illicit exploitation of emerging technologies, the complexity of criminal activities demands innovative solutions. Chief Justice Chandrachud stressed the imperative for investigative agencies to adapt to this radical transformation in crime patterns to effectively combat emerging threats.

CJI Chandrachud advocated for harnessing technological advancements to enhance crime detection and prosecution while safeguarding individual rights and data privacy, ultimately aiming for citizen-centric justice.

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-Ashish Kumar Sinha -Editor Legally Speaking -Ram Nath Goenka awardee - 14 Years of Experience in Media - Covering Courts Since 2008