Context: The Maharashtra government has withdrawn general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe cases in the state.
More on the news: The Maharashtra government was vary about the Special Crimes Division taking over the probe into the alleged TRP scam being investigated by the Mumbai Police.
Impact on the day to day functioning of the CBI:
- Will increase work for both the CBI and the state government:
- Every time the CBI traps some central government employee taking a bribe, it will need to seek approval from the Maharashtra government before registering a case.
- Similarly, the Maharashtra government department too will be burdened with approval requests on a case-by-case basis.
- CBI may take recourse in a Calcutta High Court judgment: The HC observed that the central government or CBI’s power to investigate and prosecute its own officials cannot be in any way impeded or interfered by the state even if the offenses were committed within the territory of the state.
CBI’s jurisdiction at the state level:
The CBI is divided into three categories when it comes to investigation.
- Anti-Corruption Division: That investigates cases against public servants under the control of the central government, public servants in public sector undertakings, cases against public servants working under state governments, which have been entrusted to the CBI by the state.
- The Economic Offences Division: It investigates financial crimes, bank frauds, money laundering, illegal money market operations, graft in PSUs and banks.
- The Special Crimes Division: It handles cases of conventional nature such as offences relating to internal security, espionage, sabotage, narcotics and psychotropic substances, antiquities, murders, dacoities/robberies, and cheating among others.
About general consent:
- Delhi Special Police Establishment Act: The act, which governs the CBI makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
- Types of consent: There are two kinds of consent - case-specific consent and general consent.
- Central government through notification can ask CBI to investigate against central government employees against Income tax violations, conspiracy against nation, spying etc.,
- As law and order belongs to the states, all states normally give a general consent to CBI for these investigations.
- Purpose of giving General consent: It is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state.
- Modality of CBI investigation into state government matters:
- The state governments have to request CBI with permission for a particular case.
- This will be followed by a central notification to the CBI for that case.
- Only if High courts or the Supreme court rules that there is a need for CBI investigation, then it is deemed that the consent of the state government is there and thus the central government notifies.
- Withdrawal of a general consent means that the CBI has to get case-specific consent from the states.
- It simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.
- However, the withdrawal of general consent to the CBI will not impact cases which the CBI is already investigating.