The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cannot step into an investigation without a state government's consent and the Centre cannot extend the agency's jurisdiction to a state without permission either. The case in question pertained to a chargesheet filed against a company and some public officials by the Central Bureau of Investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
"Though Section 5 enables the Central Government to extend the powers and jurisdiction of Members of the DSPE beyond the Union Territories to a state, the same is not permissible unless a state grants its consent for such an extension within the area of the state concerned under Section 6 of the DSPE Act. Obviously, the provisions are in tune with the federal character of the constitution, which has been held to be one of the basic structures of the constitution," a bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and B R Gavai said while referring to Sections 5 and 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which regulates CBI's functioning.
The ruling comes at a time when eight non-Centre ruled states - Rajasthan, Bengal, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Mizoram have cancelled consent for CBI probes in their states. The order was passed based on an appeal filed by few of the accused challenging the validity of the CBI probe against them in a corruption case on the ground that prior permission was not taken from the UP government.
Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which has a countrywide jurisdiction to take over any case related to terrorism, the CBI requires the consent of the state government under section 6 of the DPSE Act. Last Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said there was no need for withdrawing the general consent given to the CBI to probe cases in the state like some others including Kerala, but said such a move may be considered if the need arises. Speaking to reporters after a COVID-19 review meeting, he said the situation differed from state to state.