The Madras High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to consider making the Central Bureau of Investigation an autonomous body that would report only to the Parliament, NDTV reported.

A two-judge bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi referred to the CBI as a “caged parrot” and recommended that the agency should be given independence like the Election Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. The court said that the government should consider introducing a law for this purpose to give the CBI more powers and greater jurisdiction.

In their 12-point instructions to change the existing structure of the CBI, the judges also proposed separate budgetary allocation for the agency. The court suggested that the CBI chief should have powers equivalent to a government secretary and they should report directly to the prime minister or other ministries concerned, The Times of India reported.

Currently, the CBI reports to the Department of Personnel and Training under the prime minister’s office.

The Madurai bench of the High Court was hearing a public interest litigation seeking CBI inquiry in an alleged chit fund scam. The CBI had, meanwhile, filed a plea stating that it was working under constraints such as shortage of manpower, The Times of India reported.

“CBI is dragging its feet whenever there is a demand for [an] inquiry on the ground that resources and manpower available with it are restricted,” the court noted.

The court then directed the CBI chief to send a proposal to the Centre within six weeks seeking an increase in the agency’s divisions, wings and number of staff. The Centre has been directed to pass orders on the matter within three months of receiving the proposal.

The judges also took note of the CBI’s submission expressing their inability to resolve cases on time due to delay of forensic inputs from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory. The court directed that constraints of funding and facilities of the laboratory should be taken care of, according to The Times of India.

The judges said that the Centre should set up at least one laboratory each in the south, east and west zones of the country.