Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday asked why the Central Bureau of Investigation did a good job whenever there were no political overtones in a case, Hindustan Times reported.

“True, in a number of high-profile and politically sensitive cases, the agency has not been able to meet the standards of judicial scrutiny,” Gogoi said while delivering the 18th DP Kohli memorial lecture at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. “Equally true it is that such lapses may not have happened infrequently.”

Instances of the agency’s failure “reflect systemic issues and indicate a deep mismatch between institutional aspirations, organisational design, working culture, and governing politics”, he added.

The chief justice said the superintendence and control of the investigating agency continues to lie largely with the executive under Section 4 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946. He said crucial aspects of the bureau should be delinked from government control.

“The legal mandate of CBI must be strengthened by having a comprehensive legislation addressing deficiencies relating to organisational structure, charter of functions, limits of power, superintendence, and oversight,” Gogoi said. “Further, to address an increasing incidence of interstate crimes, an argument could be made for including ‘public order’ in the concurrent list, for the limited purposes of investigating such crimes.”

The chief justice said India lacked an adequately qualified and competent workforce. The gap was both qualitative and quantitative, and the CBI was no exception to the rule, Gogoi added. “Such gaps exist not merely on the operational end but also on the command side with 15% posts in executive ranks, 28.37% in law officers and 56.17% in technical officer lying vacant.”.

The chief justice said it was essential for the CBI to maintain a high reputation with the public, The Indian Express reported. “Any gap between public perception and the quality of institutional performance would adversely impact the governance of the nation, which we can ill afford,” he added.

CBI Additional Director Praveen Sinha, who delivered the vote of thanks, said Gogoi’s words would push the agency to introspect about its role and functioning. Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar, Army chief General Bipin Rawat, and Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa attended the event.