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- Mains – GS 2 (Governance)
Context: RecentlyThe government of Chief Minister restored general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases in Maharashtra while reversing the decision of the state’s previous led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. CBI will no longer require the permission of the state government to open investigations in the state.
Jurisdiction of CBI vis-a-vis State Police:
- Law and Order is a state subject and the basic jurisdiction to investigate crime lies with State Police. Besides, due to limited resources, CBI would not be able to investigate crimes of all kind.
Jurisdiction of CBI:
- Cases which are essentially against Central Govt. employees or concerning affairs of the Central Govt.
- Cases in which the financial interests of the Central Government are involved.
- Cases relating to the breaches of Central Laws with the enforcement of which the Government of India is mainly concerned.
- Big cases of fraud, cheating, embezzlement and the like relating to companies in which large funds are involved and similar other cases when committed by organized gangs or professional criminals having ramifications in several States.
- Cases having interstate and international ramifications and involving several official agencies where, from all angles, it is considered necessary that a single investigating agency should be incharge of the investigation.
If CBI can investigate then what is General Consent?
- As the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
- There are two kinds of consentin the form of case-specific consent and general consent.
- Case-specific consent–Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.
- “General consent” is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent. Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
Therefore, Withdrawal of general consent means that to probe any case in these states, CBI would have to take prior permission from the state government
Note: As per the Section 6 of The DSPE Act (“Consent of State Government to exercise of powers and jurisdiction”) says: “Nothing contained in section 5 (“Extension of powers and jurisdiction of special police establishment to other areas”) shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union territory or railway area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”
Which states have withdrawn general consent?
Currently, eight states have withdrawn consent to the CBI: Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Mizoram and Meghalaya . All except Mizoram and Meghalaya are ruled by the opposition.
Can withdrawal mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case?
- The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed.
- Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in states which have withdrawn consent, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
- If High courts or the Supreme court rules that there is a need for CBI investigation, then it is deemed that the consent of state government is there and thus central government notifies.
Recent, Court’s ruling related to it:
- Calcutta High Court recently ruled in a case of illegal coal mining and cattle smuggling being investigated by the CBI, that the central agency cannot be stopped from probing an employee of the central government in another state. The order has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
- In Vinay Mishra vs the CBI, Calcutta HCruled in July this year that corruption cases must be treated equally across the country, and a central government employee could not be “distinguished” just because his office was located in a state that had withdrawn general consent.
- The HC also said that withdrawal of consent would apply in cases where only employees of the state government were involved.
- There is need for Transparency and coordination among Centre and statesgovernment in order to carrying out the investigations which falls in the domains of CBI. In case of tussle regarding the subjects between Centre-states. should be discussed and solved through Centre-state coordinating bodies such Inter-State Council, NITI Ayog and Zonal council.
- On the other hand the misuse of central investigating agencies such as CBI , NIA and ED shouldn’t be as it is against the basic ethos of federalism and vibrant democracy.
Source: Indian Express