Tue, May 28, 2024

Centre tells Supreme Court: CBI operates independently, not under Union control

West Bengal has lodged an original complaint with the Supreme Court, alleging that the CBI has persisted with investigations without obtaining prior approval from the state.

Written by  Annesha Barua -- May 02nd 2024 01:39 PM
Centre tells Supreme Court: CBI operates independently, not under Union control

Centre tells Supreme Court: CBI operates independently, not under Union control

PTC News Desk: In a recent development, the Central Government asserted in the Supreme Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is not under its direct control. This statement emerged during a hearing regarding West Bengal's original suit, where the state accused the CBI of conducting investigations without prior approval.

Representing the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta clarified to the bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta that although the Union of India did not register any case, it was the CBI's independent decision to initiate investigations. This distinction underscored the autonomy of the investigative agency from direct governmental control.

West Bengal's lawsuit, filed under Article 131 of the Constitution, challenged the CBI's actions following the state's revocation of its "general consent" for the agency to operate within its jurisdiction. Despite this revocation, the CBI continued to file FIRs and proceed with investigations in the state, prompting the legal challenge.

Article 131, which delineates the Supreme Court's jurisdiction in disputes between the central and state governments, was portrayed as sacrosanct by the Centre. Solicitor General Mehta emphasised the importance of preventing any misuse or abuse of this constitutional provision.

The backdrop of this legal battle includes West Bengal's withdrawal of "general consent" to the CBI in November 2018, joining other non-BJP states where the agency's operations now necessitate explicit permission from the respective state governments or court directives.

The contentious issue of alleged political misuse of central agencies, particularly against opposition parties, loomed large in the proceedings. While the BJP-led Central Government has consistently denied such allegations, the CBI has faced accusations of functioning under political influence, regardless of the ruling party.

Notably, the Supreme Court's 2013 characterisation of the agency as a "caged parrot" during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government served as a reminder of the perennial controversy surrounding its independence and impartiality.

- With inputs from agencies

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