After several non-BJP-ruled states, the Congress Government in Punjab led by Amarinder Singh has also withdrawn the blanket consent accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct investigations in the State. Which means now the agency would require the prior consent of the State government on a case-to-case basis for conducting CBI investigations in the State.
With this decision, Punjab becomes the 8th state to take up this step. States like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Kerala have, with an aim to demur against the Modi government at the centre, have already evoked the consent.
Congress Govt in Punjab joins the bandwagon, revokes general consent to CBI to conduct probe in the state
The notification for the withdrawal of consent was issued by Punjab on November 8 (Sunday), stated: “In exercise of the powers conferred by section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No. 25 of 1946) the Government of Punjab hereby withdraws the general consent accorded to the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment, anytime herein before.”
It added: “In view of revocation of all previous general consents issued earlier, prior consent of the Government of Punjab shall be required, hereinafter, on a case-to-case basis for investigation of any offence or class of offences.”
Under Section 6 of the Act, all states except Delhi and the Union Territories have the discretion to give their consent to the CBI for a probe in the state,” it further read.
Other non-BJP States to withdraw consent to CBI
On November 5 (Thursday), Jharkhand joined the list of non-BJP ruled states to have withdrawn the blanket consent given to CBI, signifying the opposition parties rallying together against the central govt. In a similar move, Left Democratic Front (LDF) ruled Kerala had withdrawn the consent on Wednesday.
Earlier, other non-BJP ruled states West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra had issued similar orders under the Delhi Police Establishment Act to require CBI obtain their consent to start any probe in the respective states. Andhra Pradesh had also withdrawn the consent in November 2018 by Chandrababu Naidu govt, but it was restored by the Jagan Mohan Reddy govt in June 2019.
West Bengal had also withdrawn the consent to CBI in 2018 immediately after Andhra Pradesh. Congress-led Chhattisgarh government had done the same in January 2019. Congress-ruled Rajasthan government had revoked the general consent in July 2020. More recently, the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP govt had followed suit in October this year, after the CBI had taken over the Sushant Singh Rajput case and UP govt had recommended transferring the TRP manipulation case to CBI.
CBI comes under the DSPE Act and it requires states to give the agency a consent to act against central government employees within a state as public order and police come under the state governments. To avoid issuing separate consents for each case, states generally issue a blanket consent to the CBI, which is routinely renewed. But after withdrawal of the general consent, the agency will have to seek permission for each cases it wants to probe in the states, and the states may refuse to grant such permission.