Meghalaya has withdrawn consent to the CBI to investigate cases in the state, becoming the ninth state in the country to have taken this step.
GS II- Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is general consent?
- Which states have withdrawn consent, and why?
- What does the withdrawal of general consent mean?
- Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
What is general consent?
- The CBI is governed by The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, and it must mandatorily obtain the consent of the state government concerned before beginning to investigate a crime in a state.
- Section 6 of The DSPE Act (“Consent of State Government to exercise of powers and jurisdiction”) says: “Nothing contained in section 5 (titled “Extension of powers and jurisdiction of special police establishment to other areas”) shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union territory or railway area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”
- The CBI’s position is in this respect different from that of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by The NIA Act, 2008, and has jurisdiction across the country.
- The consent of the state government to CBI can be either case-specific or general.
- General consent is normally given by states to help the CBI in seamless investigation of cases of corruption against central government employees in their states.
- This is consent by default, in the absence of which the CBI would have to apply to the state government in every case, and before taking even small actions.
Which states have withdrawn consent, and why?
- Traditionally, almost all states have given CBI general consent. However, since 2015 onward, several states have begun to act differently.
- Before Meghalaya’s action, eight other states had withdrawn consent to the CBI: Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Mizoram.
- All these states except Mizoram and Meghalaya are ruled by the anti-BJP opposition.
- The first state to withdraw consent was Mizoram in 2015.
What does the withdrawal of general consent mean?
- It means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving officials of the central government or a private person in the state without the consent of the state government.
- Calcutta High Court recently ruled in a case of illegal coal mining and cattle smuggling being investigated by the CBI, that the central agency cannot be stopped from probing an employee of the central government in another state. The order has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
- Vinay Mishra vs the CBI: Calcutta HC ruled that corruption cases must be treated equally across the country, and a central government employee could not be “distinguished” just because his office was located in a state that had withdrawn general consent.
- The HC also said that withdrawal of consent would apply in cases where exclusively employees of the state government were involved.
- The petition had challenged the validity of FIRs registered by the CBI’s Kolkata branch after the withdrawal of consent.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 after the recommendation of Santhanam committee under Ministry of Home affairs and was later transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
- Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
- The CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, however, it is NOT a Statutory Body.
- CBI is the apex anti-corruption body in the country – Along with being the main investigating agency of the Central Government it also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
- The CBI is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central Government before conducting any inquiry or investigation.
- The CBI is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
- The CBI’s conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.
- The CBI is headed by a Director and he is assisted by a special director or an additional director. It has joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police.
CBI has following divisions
- Anti-Corruption Division
- Economic Offences Division
- Special Crimes Division
- Policy and International Police Cooperation Division
- Administration Division
- Directorate of Prosecution
- Central Forensic Science Laboratory
Functions of CBI
- Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees
- Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws, that is, breach of laws concerning export and import control, customs and central excise, income tax, foreign exchange regulations and so on. However, such cases are taken up either in consultation with or at the request of the department concerned.
- Investigating serious crimes, having national and international ramifications, committed by organized gangs of professional criminals.
- Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces.
- Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.
- Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
- The CBI acts as the “National Central Bureau” of Interpol in India.
How is the Director of the CBI appointed?
- The Central Government shall appoint the Director of CBI on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or Judge of the Supreme Court (SC) nominated by him.
- The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Act, 2014 made a change in the composition of the committee related to the appointment of the Director of CBI. It states that where there is no recognized leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha would be a member of that committee.
About Supreme Court Judgements regarding Director of the CBI
- In a March 2019 order, the Supreme Court introduced a six-month minimum residual tenure – i.e., officers with less than six months left to retire should be avoided from being appointed as the director of CBI.
- In the Prakash Singh case, 2006 the SC had stressed the point that appointment of DGPs “should be purely on the basis of merit and to insulate the office from all kinds of influences and pressures”. Though the order in the Prakash Singh case pertained to the appointment of DGPs, it was extended to CBI Director too.
- In the Vineet Narain judgment of 1998 it was held by the Supreme Court that the Director of CBI is to hold the post for not less than two years. The director may not be transferred except with the previous consent of the high-level committee.
- In the Union of India versus C. Dinakar, 2001 case, the Supreme Court held that “ordinarily IPS officers of the senior most four batches in service on the date of retirement of CBI Director, irrespective of their empanelment, shall be eligible for consideration for appointment to the post of CBI Director”.
-Source: Indian Express