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Current Affairs

General consent for CBI

Date: 07 March 2022 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The General consent given to CBI to investigate by the Meghalaya government has been withdrawn.

 

Background

Meghalaya becomes ninth state in the country to withdraw the general consent given to the premier investigative agency.

 

Details

  • The CBI has to compulsorily obtain the consent of the state government concerned before beginning to investigate a crime in a state.

  • The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, under which CBI operates, states that it needs consent for operation.

  • Officials cannot exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State without obtaining the consent of the Government of that State.

  • This consent is either case-specific or general. The general consent allows CBI officials to conduct seamless investigation of officials of central government for corruption.

  • If there is no consent in general, the CBI has to apply each time to the state government to investigate a particular case.

 

Reasons for consent withdrawal

  • Currently, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Mizoram have withdrawn consent for CBI.

  • These states are ruled majorly by opposition parties and claim that CBI is being used by the central government to harass opposition leaders.

 

Effects of withdrawal

  • After withdrawal, the CBI will not be able to register any new case against officials of the central government or a private person in the state without obtaining consent from state government.

  • However, the CBI has right to investigate those cases that have been registered before the withdrawal of consent.

 

Decision of court

  • Courts have observed that withdrawing consent does not take away right of CBI to investigate central government employee just because his/her office is in a particular state.

  • The courts have said that withdrawal of consent will be applicable only when it exclusively concerns a state government employee.

 

Concerns

More than 150 requests for sanction to investigate have been pending with the state governments where consent has been withdrawn.

General consent for CBI

Date: 12 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Concern was expressed by Supreme Court on a report filed by CBI that more than 150 requests for investigation were pending with states that have withdrawn consent.

 

Background

The CBI needs general consent from states to investigate a particular case. Without consent, CBI will not have jurisdiction.

 

Details

At present, eight states have withdrawn the general consent given to the CBI for investigation of cases. CBI is still taking measures to strengthen prosecution.

 

General consent

  • The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 194 governs CBI’s powers and jurisdiction unlike The NIA Act, 2008 that gives NIA jurisdiction of whole country.

  • The CBI must compulsorily obtain the consent of the concerned state government before beginning to investigate a crime in a state.

  • The consent can be general or case-specific. The general consent will help the CBI in investigation of cases of corruption against central government employees in their states.

  • In absence of general consent, the CBI will have to keep applying for permission in every case, and before taking even small actions.

 

Withdrawal of consent

  • Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Mizoram and Punjab have withdrawn general consent.

  • All states except Mizoram are ruled by opposition. It had withdrawn consent in 2015. States such as Kerala and Punjab had withdrawn consent in 2020.

 

Reasons for withdrawal

States have alleged that the Union government is using the CBI to unfairly target the opposition. They will be giving assent based on cases.

 

Implications

  • Without the consent of the state government, the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case against officials of the central government or a private person.

  • High court verdict has said that any central government employee can be investigated eventhough their office is located in a state that has withdrawn general consent.

  • The court says that consent will apply in only those cases where only employees of the state government were involved.

 

Way ahead

  • CBI can use Calcutta High Court order till it is upheld. It can investigate cases that were registered before withdrawal of consent.

  • A warrant from a local court can be obtained to conduct investigation. The section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) can be used, which allows police officer of one jurisdiction to ask an officer of another to carry out a search on their behalf.