WHY ARE STATE GOVERNMENTS WITHDRAWING ‘GENERAL CONSENT’ FOR CBI INVESTIGATIONS?

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is constituted under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and its jurisdiction to investigate primarily extends to the Union Territories as per Section 2 of the DSPE Act but the same can be extended by the Central government under section 5 of the act to the states, given the state government has given their general consent under Section 6 of the act. The state governments can through a notification under section 6 withdraw their consent but it will only have a prospective effect and will not affect the ongoing investigations. After which for CBI to investigate new matters within a state, it will have to demand a case specific consent and when denied that consent too, it can approach the Courts for carrying out the investigation. 

On 21st October, the Maharashtra Government revoked its general consent under Section 6, the purpose behind the same was to protect the powers vested with the local state police and preserve the authority of state government. A few months ago, the CBI took over the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case and the drug case. Recently, in the TRP scam case, the Mumbai police is already doing an investigation but the CBI has accepted an FIR in Uttar Pradesh based on a complaint for investigating the TRP scam. 

As per the procedure, if the state government has revoked its general consent and is not allowing a case specific investigation by CBI either, and if the case is partly in two or more states then the CBI can register the case in one state and seek assistance from the other state government. Similarly, in the TRP scam case one of options with CBI is to seek assistance of Maharashtra government, since the case is on a related subject matter. 

Maharashtra Government’s decision makes it the 5th state to have withdrawn the consent. In the past, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan too have taken the same step. The key reason behind this is that the Central agency has on several occasions been alleged of misuse for “political purposes” and corruption. It has also been accused of specifically targeting the central government’s political rivals. For example, AP government’s move is considered as a consequence of the political tension between BJP-led Centre and Telugu Desam Party and Income Tax raids that were instituted against several leaders of the latter party. Similar instances were observed in the other states too. Formerly the Apex Court observed in the famous Coal scam case, the CBI as a “caged parrot” and “its master’s voice” 

Hence the revocation of consent can in certain instances be in the state’s interest, whereas in other cases it might not be in the people’s interest, who may demand interference by an independent agency.

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