Maha Govt Blocks CBI From Probing Cases in State Without ‘Consent’

CBI will now need the approval of the state government to initiate a probe on a case by case basis.

3 min read
File image of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, used for representational purposes.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government on Wednesday, 21 October, revoked the "general consent" given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe cases in the state.

The investigation agency will now need the approval of the state government to initiate a probe on a case by case basis.

Maha Govt Blocks CBI From Probing Cases in State Without ‘Consent’

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday said, “CBI holds investigation in a very professional manner, but the pressure built on the organisation to seek political benefits isn't right, therefore, we took this decision,” reported ANI.

Before Maharashtra, three other Opposition-ruled states – Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal – had withdrawn its general consent to let the CBI investigate cases in their states.

Officials told Hindustan Times that this move won’t affect the CBI investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case since it was mandated by Supreme Court and is not under the ambit of the general consent of the state.

The move comes a day after the CBI filed an FIR in the ‘TRP scam’ on the recommendation from Uttar Pradesh Police.

The UP Police had earlier registered a case in Lucknow's Hazratganj Police Station on the basis of a complaint by one ‘Golden Rabbit Communications’. The case was handed over to the CBI by the UP government.

"The CBI has registered a case at the request of the UP government and following a notification from the government of India about taking over the investigation of the case earlier registered by Hazratganj police station in Lucknow," a senior CBI officer, associated with the case told IANS.

The alleged TRP scam is also being probed by the Mumbai Police, with Republic TV being the biggest name that has surfaced in the case. Two other smaller regional channels named are Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema.

Why Does CBI Need Permission of State to Probe a Case?

The key thing to remember when it comes to this is that police and public order are issues that fall within the purview of state governments, not the Centre, according to the Constitution.

The Centre only controls the police in Union territories (and Delhi) and in connection with the Railways – otherwise investigation of cases is generally supposed to rest with state governments.

The obvious exceptions to this are central investigative agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and, you might think, the CBI.

However, while the CBI is considered a central investigative agency, it was not constituted by an Act of Parliament like the NIA. Instead, the CBI was founded under a Delhi government law called the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 (DSPE Act).

This means, unlike the NIA, which can take up a case dealing with its scheduled offences (basically terror cases) anywhere in the country without the consent of the state government in question, the CBI can’t just operate wherever it wants, even in cases dealing with its core competencies, like anti-corruption, or foreign exchange violations.

Section 6 of the DSPE Act says that the CBI cannot:

“Exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or railway area, without consent of the Government of that State.”

To prevent this from becoming a logistical nightmare, most states issue a ‘general consent’ to the CBI to investigate cases assigned to them – Rajasthan had done so as far back as 1956.

What’s the 'TRP Scam’ All About?

The matter has also gone to the courts, with the Bombay High Court on Monday asking the Mumbai Police to issue summons to Arnab Goswami if he is proposed to be named as accused in the TRP scam case. The court was informed by Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, that he will appear and cooperate with the probe if he receives the summons.

Earlier this month, the Mumbai Police had said that it has busted a "TRP scam", whereby Television Rating Points (TRPs) were being manipulated. In the briefing, the Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh said that ratings by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which measures television ratings in India, have been manipulated.

The police named Republic TV and two other Marathi channels who, it said, were involved in the practice.

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