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Current Affairs

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Supreme Court on a report filed by CBI that more than 150 requests for investigation were pending with states that have withdrawn consent.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At present, eight states have withdrawn the general consent given to the CBI for investigation of cases.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  • Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Mizoram and Punjab have withdrawn general consent.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 It had withdrawn consent in 2015. States such as Kerala and Punjab had withdrawn consent in 2020.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said that any central government employee can be investigated eventhough their office is located in a state that has withdrawn general consent.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.