Maharashtra withdraws consent to CBI to probe cases in state

TRP Scam

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TRP Scam
TRP Scam

In News:

  • The Maharashtra state government has withdrawn the “general consent” given to the CBI to probe cases in the state.

News Summary:
  • In the recent days, ‘TRP Scam’ was in news. It refers to the alleged manipulation of viewership ratings by some TV channels.
  • While Mumbai police is investigating a case registered in Mumbai, the UP police has also registered a case in the state and later requested the Centre for a CBI inquiry into it.
  • The TRP Scam case also involves a prominent TV channel and other people based in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • Now, the Maharashtra state government has withdrawn the “general consent” given to the CBI to probe cases in the state.
  • This means the CBI will now have to get consent from the state government to register a case in Maharashtra.
  • However, CBI can still conduct investigations in the state with a case registered in another state where it has not been barred general consent.
  • However, things are not expected to be smooth for the agency in such cases.
  • Meanwhile, some of the channels have approached the Bombay High Court for the case to be transferred to the CBI. If that happens, no state government’s consent would be needed for the CBI.

About: CBI Historical background

  • India’s first agency to investigate corruption, the Special Police Establishment (SPE), was set up in 1941 by an executive order to probe bribery and corruption in the country during World War II. That agency was part of India’s War Department.
  • In 1946, the government passed the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, expanding its functions to cover all departments of the Govt. of India. This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department.
  • The jurisdiction of the DSPE extended to all the Union Territories and could be extended also to the States with the consent of the State Government concerned.
  • That 1946 Act also gave the central government the right to set up and govern a special police force to investigate acts of corruption.
  • The DSPE was renamed as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution in 1963.
Supervision over CBI:
  • The superintendence of CBI related to investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 lies with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
  • In other matters, the superintendence of CBI lies with the Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) in the Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Grievances of the Government of India.
Role:
  • Anti-corruption agency: It’s foundational role is as an anti-corruption agency to investigate corruption by central government servants and public servants. 
    • CBI generally has legal jurisdiction to investigate only central government departments and employees. However, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or an incident in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.
    • States can also ask the Union Home Ministry for a CBI probe involving government and public servants of the state.
  • Economic Offences: From 1965 onwards, the CBI has also been entrusted with the investigation of Economic Offences, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime.
  • Special Crimes: CBI has also been entrusted with the investigation of important conventional crimes as well as serious, sensational and organized crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the requests of State Governments, on a selective basis.
  • Widening Role: Apart from the government, even the Supreme court and the various High Courts of the country also started entrusting such cases for investigation to the CBI on petitions filed by aggrieved parties.

Appointment of CBI Director:

  • Since the enactment of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, the process of appointing the CBI Director is as below:
    • The Union Home Ministry prepares the first list of eligible officers, which is the vetted by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for seniority, integrity and investigation experience.
    • The list then goes to the Lokpal Search Committee, comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition (LoP).
      • In case the CJI is not available, he can depute a representative.
      • If no party in Opposition is large enough to get the position of LoP, the leader of the largest Opposition party can attend.
    • The search committee examines the names and sends its recommendation to the government.
    • The decision of the committee could be unanimous or by majority of two with a member recording a note of dissent.

About: General Consent, What is general consent?

  • The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DPSE) Act, which makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
  • There are two kinds of consent:
    1. Case-specific consent
      • For cases against state government employees or violent and serious crimes within a state, the CBI cannot move in without specific consent of the state government concerned or directives by HCs and Supreme Court.
    2. General consent
      • “General consent” is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state.
      • Usually states give such consent. Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
  • 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.
  • In respect of specified offences committed within Union Territory and other offences associated with it, the Supreme Court said that consent of any state government will not be necessary for CBI even if the offender is a resident of the state.
Withdrawal of General Consent:
  • Withdrawal of General Consent by a state means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in that states without getting case-specific consent.
  • However, CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed.
  • Also, withdrawal of consent by a state will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the state’s jurisdiction.
  • CBI can also probe people based in that state (which has withdrawn general consent) who are found involved in cases registered in other states.

Is it the first time a state government has withdrawn consent?

  • Over the years, at various times, several states have done so, including West Bengal, Sikkim, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka etc. have done so.
  • At present, Maharashtra is currently the fourth state to withdrawn general consent, besides West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh

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