From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CBI
Mains level : Issues with CBI
The Union Government has told the Supreme Court West Bengal state govt does not have any “absolute” power to keep the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from investigating crimes inside the State.
What is the issue?
- A case of post-poll violence was transferred to the CBI by the Calcutta High Court.
- Hence the State Police is under a cloud.
- In a response to this, the West Bengal had filed a suit against the Union of India under Article 131 of the Constitution.
What is Article 131 of Indian Constitution?
- Article 131 states talks about the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on matters subject to the provisions of Constitution between the Government of India and one or more States.
- Thus, the Article allows a state to file a suit in the Supreme Court in case of any dispute that it may have with the central government, invoking the court’s “original jurisdiction”.
Why WB challenged the Union govt?
- The State has challenged the CBI’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the State in myriad cases.
- West Bengal said it had withdrawn “general consent” to the CBI way back in 2018.
- The State said the CBI’s actions were a direct attack on the federal structure of governance.
What is this ‘General Consent’ about?
- Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
- This makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting an investigation in that state.
- Hence the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees.
- However, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only with the consent of state government.
Arguments made by Centre
- The Centre said that the CBI was an autonomous body not controlled by the Union Government.
- Hence the suit was misplaced and should be dismissed.