In the light of serious allegations against the CBI, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have withdrawn the “general consent” granted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
What is General Consent?
- General Consent is the approval given by a State government concerned from time to time to the CBI (the agency originated from the Special Police Establishment) and other agencies covered by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946.
- The CBI functions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, under which provides a state government “routinely” grants consent to the CBI for exercising its authority in the state.
- The consent is necessary as the jurisdiction of these agencies is confined to Delhi and Union Territories under this Act.
- The withdrawal of General Consent effectively curtails CBI’s powers in the State without prior permission.
- It also means that the CBI officers lose police powers under the Criminal Procedure Code in the State concerned and for registering each case, the agency has to seek a specific consent from the State government.
- The general consent was accorded to the CBI in West Bengal by the then Left Front government in West Bengal in 1989.
- The reason cited to withdraw the consent was recent allegations against top CBI officials.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and all agencies under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 would now need permission from the respective state governments to carry out any sort of investigation in these states on a case by case basis, except those ordered by the courts and against central government officials.
- However, the withdrawal of general consent may not have any bearing on the existing cases, ongoing investigations and the filing of charge sheets by the CBI.
- A Supreme Court judgment in KaziLhendupDorji v. Central Bureau of Investigation &Ors (1994)to stresses that it would not impact the already instituted cases.
- In that judgment, the Supreme Court had held that: “An Order revoking an Order giving Consent under Section of the Act [Delhi Special Police Establishment Act], can only have prospective operation and would not affect matters in which action has been initiated prior to the issuance of the Order of Revocation.