The Bengal Government in 2018 had withdrawn its general consent to any investigation conducted by the CBI. Another opposition-ruled state, Jharkhand amalgamated this trend in 2020. Since 2018, nearly 150 appeals to permit investigation had been pending, with 8 states withdrawing their general consent altogether.
However, in 2021, the Supreme Court entitled CBI to investigate and probe any accused without the State Government’s consent. This also restricts any State Government to withdraw its consent for CBI investigations against any central government employee unless it causes prejudice.
A thorough understanding of this topic is an intrinsic part of UPSC exam preparations. Here is a detailed discussion on its whereabouts to help aspirants prepare better.
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What Is General Consent?
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is an independent body regulated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946. This law mandates to attain State Government’s consent for CBI investigation of any crime in that state.
State Government consent can be either general or case-specific. State provides its general consent for an impeccable CBI investigation of corruption cases against central government employees in its territory. In case of absence of general consent, the CBI must ask for case-specific consent before taking each action, even the smallest ones.
Which States Denied to Accord General Consent?
- Presently, 8 states have withdrawn their general consent for investigation, resulting in the agency requiring case-specific permission. Some of these states are West Bengal, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Mizoram.
- Mizoram was the first to withdraw its general consent in 2015.
- In November 2018, the then CM of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu, withdrew the State’s general consent. Hours after this affair, the West Bengal Government led by CM Mamata Banerjee announced the same. Afterwards, Andhra Pradesh restored its consent.
- In January 2019, the Chhattisgarh Government withdrew the State’s consent.
- In July 2019, the Central Government declared that CBI does not need to obtain Tripura’s general consent. Nevertheless, in a multi-state raid, CBI conducted probes in the state.
- Punjab did not withdraw its general consent but it withdrew the case-specific consent for significant cases being investigated by the CBI.
From Which Opposition States the CBI Still Obtains General Consent?
- Telangana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are the states ruled by opposition parties, and yet have their general consent for CBI investigations.
- Andhra Pradesh withdrew its consent in 2018 but restored it in 2019.
- Delhi and Puducherry, as a Union Territory, cannot withdraw their consent despite being ruled by opponent parties.
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What is the Withdrawal of General Consent According to the DSPE Act?
Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act defines the State’s general consent. It says that Section 5 of this Act does not empower DSPE members to wield jurisdiction in any area of the State without its consent. This disables CBI to file any new case against any Central Government employee or private person without the State’s permission.
What is the Current Status of CBI in the 8 States?
- In 2021, Calcutta High Court ruled that withdrawal of State’s general consent cannot stop CBI to proceed with investigating corruption cases.
- It also stated that the agency can probe against Central Government employees equally across the country. No one should be differentiated for being in a state with withdrawn general consent.
- CBI can apply this Calcutta High Court order to raise a fresh case in any state.
What Action Does CBI Take Against a General Consent Withdrawal?
- CBI can challenge a State’s decision of withdrawing its consent in a court. The agency must exhibit its progress in the investigation of the case.
- If any State withdraws its consent for CBI investigations, the agency can further request case-specific consent. For instance, it can appeal for a search warrant from a local court to conduct an investigation.
CBI members can also utilise Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This permits one police officer to ask another officer of a different jurisdiction for investigation on their behalf. To sum it up, despite several stumbling blocks, CBI can utilise different avenues to continue investigations.
This encompasses all the essential details on this topic that can help in IAS preparations. Nevertheless, aspirants must check out other important current affairs to increase their chances of cracking IAS and other crucial exams, such as the UPSC Prelims.
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Frequently Asked Questions on CBI and Consent of States
What is general consent for CBI according to UPSC notes?
The general consent of states enables CBI to conduct investigations and probe against any Central Government employee in any corruption case. Without the State’s general consent, the central agency loses all power to perform any investigation in any part of the state.
Is CBI a statutory body?
No, CBI is not a statutory body. Instead, it is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946.