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State govt’s consent mandatory for CBI probe: SC

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The Supreme Court has said that the consent of the state government is mandatory for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. It added that the Union government cannot extend the jurisdiction of the central agency without approval from the state government.

The Supreme Court verdict assumes importance, especially when eight non-BJP ruled states have withdrawn their general consent given to the CBI. The states include Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh among others.

The apex court said the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act makes requires the consent of the state government for the CBI to exercise its power and jurisdiction.

Under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, all states except Delhi and the union territories have the discretion to give their consent to the CBI for a probe in the state.

“As per law, state consent is a must and the Centre cannot extend CBI jurisdiction without the state’s consent. The law is in tune with the federal structure of the constitution,” the Supreme Court said.

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The top court’s verdict was on appeals challenging a judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court in August 2019 in a case involving Fertico Marketing and Investment Private Limited.

Notably, various state governments have alleged that the Centre was misusing the CBI for political gains.

The case

A surprise raid by the CBI in the factory premises of Fertico found that the coal it had bought under the Fuel Supply Agreement with Coal India Limited was allegedly sold in the black market. The CBI had registered a case.

Two state officials were also found to be involved in the case. The officials had argued that the general consent given by the state government was not enough and separate permission was required if they were to be investigated.

The Allahabad High Court had noted that the Uttar Pradesh government had retroactively granted consent against the two government officials, who were later named in a charge-sheet, and that was sufficient.

Confirming the high court order, the Supreme Court has said, “In the result, we find no reason to interfere with the finding of the High Court with regard to not obtaining prior consent of the state government.”

 

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