Centre Cannot Extend CBI Jurisdiction Without State’s Permission: SC

The Supreme Court said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cannot step into an investigation without the state government’s consent and the Centre cannot extend the agency’s jurisdiction to a state without its permission. The SC’s ruling was pertaining to a chargesheet filed against a company and some public officials by the CBI under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

“Though Section 5 enables the central government to extend the powers and jurisdiction of members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act beyond the Union territories to a state, the same is not permissible unless a state grants its consent for such an extension within the area of the state concerned under Section 6 of the DSPE Act. Obviously, the provisions are in tune with the federal character of the constitution, which has been held to be one of the basic structures of the constitution,”

The Supreme Court delivered this ruling while referring to Sections 5 and 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which regulates CBI’s functioning.

The ruling comes at a time when eight non-BJP ruled states – Rajasthan, Bengal, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Mizoram, have cancelled consent for CBI probes in their states. The order was passed based on an appeal filed by few of the accused, challenging the validity of the CBI probe, against them in a corruption case on the ground that prior permission was not taken from the Uttar Pradesh government.

Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which has a countrywide jurisdiction to take over any case related to terrorism, the CBI requires the consent of the state government under section 6 of the DPSE Act. Last Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said there was no need for withdrawing the general consent given to the CBI to probe cases in their state like some others, including Kerala, but said such a move may be considered if the need arises. He said the situation differed from state to state.