Parliamentary panel for new laws to define CBI’s mandate and its powers

CBI law insider
CBI law insider

Soni Satti

A parliamentary standing committee has suggested that the Centre determine whether there was a need to reform current legislation or enact a new law to specifically identify the CBI’s role and vest further powers in it, citing the rising trend of State governments withdrawing their consent for a CBI inquiry.

So far, eight states ruled by parties other than the Bharatiya Janata Party have withdrawn their general consent, which is needed to launch a CBI probe. Rajasthan, Kerala, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Punjab were the other states to do so last year.

The panel referred to the CBI’s submission that it was unable to begin new investigations in the absence of general approval from the states, especially in cases of bank fraud/economic offences and corruption involving the Central government over the charges of misappropriation of large sums of public funds.

The report presented in parliament stated, “The committee agrees with the view of (the) CBI that withdrawal of general
consent by states impedes the investigation. The committee, therefore, recommends the government to assess if there is a need to amend the existing Laws or bring out a new law altogether in order to clearly define the mandate of (the) CBI and vest more powers in it,”

According to section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the CBI requires the permission of state governments to conduct inquiries in any part of a state that is not a union territory or a railway area.

The central government, in response to the state government’s approval, expands the CBI’s powers and authority to the state through a notice under section 5 of the DSPE Act, allowing the state to perform inquiries for identified offences.

The CBI has delved into crimes that are seen as politically motivated or were being investigated by local law enforcement, resulting in a clash between non- BJP ruled state governments and the Centre.

After the CBI filed a case to probe the TV rating scam based on a complaint filed in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, the Maharashtra government revoked its consent.

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