Setting the stage for a standoff in the Supreme Court on the autonomy issue, an assertive Centre on Friday junked Central Bureau of Investigation's stand for more power for its director with a minimum three-year term, saying an all powerful chief without checks and balances entails the risk of "potential misuse".
Rejecting CBI's opposition for an accountability commission for the agency, the Centre in an affidavit also said that the need for an "external, independent and strong watchdog is imperative".
The Department of Personnel and Training also took a tough stand on CBI's plea for an independent committee headed by CVC to grant sanction for prosecution of senior bureaucrats and insisted on retaining such powers.
The government stand raises questions on its assurance of ensuring autonomy given to the Supreme Court which had described CBI as a "caged parrot" that has to be insulated from interference by political executives and external influences.
"An all powerful director CBI without adequate checks and balances would not be consonant with settled Constitutional principles and would always carry the risk of potential misuse and may not be conducive to fearless and independent functioning of the organisation at all levels. Therefore, averments of CBI are not agreed with," the 22-page affidavit said.