Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Friday said that the reputation of the Central Bureau of Investigation has come under the scanner over time.

“Like every other institution of repute, the CBI has also come under deep public scrutiny,” Ramana said at an event in Delhi. “Its actions and inactions have often raised questions regarding its credibility.”

He made the remarks while delivering the 19th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture organised by the CBI in memory of its founder-director.

The chief justice said that the investigation agency in the past had immense trust of the public.

“In fact, the Judiciary used to be flooded with requests for transfer of investigations to CBI, as it was a symbol of impartiality and independence,” Justice Ramana said. “Whenever the citizenry doubted the skill and impartiality of its own state police, they sought an investigation by CBI, as they wanted justice to be done.”

Ramana also said there was an immediate need for the formation of an “independent umbrella institution” for investigating agencies such as the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and others.

He said such an organisation will help end multiple proceedings that emerge due to one case being investigated by various agencies.

“It is imperative for the organisation to be headed by an independent and impartial authority, to be appointed by a committee akin to the one which appoints the director of the CBI,” Ramana suggested. “The head of the organisation can be assisted by deputies who are specialists in different domains.”

He, however, cautioned that in order to ensure total independence, the umbrella body must have separate and autonomous wings for prosecution and investigation.

In Friday’s lecture, Justice Ramana also stressed on the need for reforms in the police system.

“The image of the institution of police is regrettably tarnished by allegations of corruption, police excesses, lack of impartiality and close nexus with the political class,” he said. “The need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust. The first step to gain the same is to break the nexus with the political executive.”

The chief justice said it was vital for police and other investigative agencies to uphold democratic values. “They should not allow any authoritarian tendencies to creep in,” he added.