• India
  • May 09

Explainer - General consent of states for CBI probe

• On May 8, the Supreme Court said it will not allow either the Centre or the West Bengal government to raise any political issue during the arguments on the state’s lawsuit which alleged that the CBI is going ahead with its investigations despite withdrawal of general consent by the state to probe cases within its territorial jurisdiction.

• A bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta said it was only deciding a legal issue and the court will not permit either of the parties to make political arguments.

• The bench reserved its verdict on the maintainability of the suit filed by the state government.

• During the arguments last week, the Centre had told the apex court that the CBI was not under the “control” of the Union and the government can’t supervise either the registration of an offence by the agency or its investigation.

• The Centre’s submission assumes significance as the opposition parties have been accusing the government of misusing central probe agencies like the CBI and the ED to target its rivals.

• The West Bengal government has filed an original suit in the Supreme Court against the Centre under Article 131 of the Constitution.

• Article 131 deals with the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction in a dispute between the Centre and one or more states.

• On November 16, 2018, the West Bengal government withdrew the “general consent” accorded to the CBI to conduct a probe or carry out raids in the state. 

General consent for CBI probe

• CBI derives its authority from the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946. 

• It functions within a well-established legal and procedural framework. 

• The provisions of DSPE Act, primarily, apply to the Union Territories and are extended to the states only with their consent.

• As per Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, the CBI needs the consent from the respective state government for conducting investigation in its jurisdiction.

• Some state governments have granted a general consent to CBI for the investigation of specified class of offences against specified categories of persons enabling CBI to register and investigate those specified matters. 

• The central government can authorise the CBI to investigate such crime in a state, but only with the consent of the concerned state government. 

• The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order CBI to investigate such a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of the state.

• Many states, including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, have withdrawn general consent to the CBI to probe cases. 

Central Bureau of Investigation

• The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier anti-corruption investigative agency in India. It has the experience of handling high profile conventional crimes, economic offences, banking frauds and crimes with international links. 

Evolution of CBI

• The CBI traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the government of India. The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Department of India during World War II. 

• Superintendence of the SPE was vested with the War Department. Even after the end of the War, the need for a central government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by central government employees was felt.

• The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act was therefore brought into force in 1946. This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the government of India. 

• The jurisdiction of the SPE extended to all the Union Territories and could be extended also to the states with the consent of the state government concerned.

• The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a home ministry resolution in 1963. 

The CBI is not a statutory body. The CBI derives its power to investigate from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.

• The founder director of the CBI was D.P. Kohli held office from April 1, 1963 to May 31, 1968.

• Initially the offences notified by the central government were related to corruption by central government servants.

• It was set up to not only investigate cases of bribery and corruption but also a violation of central fiscal laws, major frauds relating to government of India departments, public joint stock companies, passport frauds and serious crimes committed by organised gangs and professional criminals.

• CBI was further strengthened by the addition of the Economic Offences Wing in 1964.

• The scope of Economic Offences Division was expanded from time to time to cover various economic offences mainly pertaining to serious frauds in banks, stock exchanges, financial institutions, joint stock companies, public limited companies, misappropriation of public funds, misallocation of national natural resources like coal, criminal breach of trust, cheating of small investors through Ponzi Scheme and chit fund scams, cybercrime, IMPEX Laws, counterfeiting of currency, narcotics, drug trafficking, offences related to antiques, arts & treasures, piracy, forgery of travel documents/identity papers, fraud in overseas job rackets, wildlife crimes, etc.

• Over time, requests were made by various quarters for the CBI to take up investigation in crimes like homicide, kidnapping, large scale banks and insurance frauds, complicated matters, etc. 

• Courts also reposed faith in CBI and started referring cases to it for enquiry/investigation based on petitions filed by the aggrieved persons in serious matters. This led to the multi-dimensional growth of the agency.

• The CBI has jurisdiction to investigate offences pertaining to 69 Central laws, 18 State Acts and 231 offences in the IPC.

• In order to secure cooperation between the Special Police Establishment and the ministries/departments of the central government, separate directives had been issued by the ministry of home affairs, railway board and the Army, Naval and Air Headquarters and Defence Production Organisation. Subsequently, these separate directives were replaced by one single directive of memorandum by the ministry of home affairs.

CBI has the following divisions:

a) Anti-Corruption Division: To deal with cases of corruption and fraud committed by public servants of all central government departments, Central Public Sector Undertakings and central financial institutions.

b) Economic Crimes Division: To deal with bank frauds, financial frauds, Import-Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cultural property and smuggling of other contraband items, etc. 

c) Special Crimes Division: To deal with cases of terrorism, bomb blasts and  sensational homicides.

d) Directorate of Prosecution: The Directorate of Prosecution was established in pursuance of the orders of Supreme Court in Vineet Narain case. The Directorate tenders legal advice in CBI cases, besides conducting prosecution in CBI cases. The Directorate also attends to matters relating to legal matters raised in the IGPs/DGPs conference, matters relating to interpretation of laws, appointment of special counsels, statutory rules and regulations and amendments thereof, preparation of notes on Legal matters for publication in CBI Gazette, etc.

e) Policy & Coordination Division: The Policy Unit deals with all matters relating to policy, procedure, organisation, vigilance & security in the CBI, correspondence and liaison with ministries and implementation of special programmes for vigilance and anti-corruption, etc. The Coordination Unit takes part in the organisation of Directors General of Police, CID and other conferences and is also incharge of the publication of the CBI bulletin. The Interpol Unit is the Secretariat of the national central bureau. 

f) Central Forensic Science Laboratory: The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) provides expert opinion on various aspects of forensic science concerning crime investigation. Apart from Delhi Police and the CBI, it assists central government departments, states, State Forensic Science Laboratories, defence forces, government undertakings, universities, banks, etc.

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