The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government has withdrawn the general consent extended by it to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe cases in the state. The CBI will now need the state’s permission to carry out any investigation in the state. The state home department issued a notification to this effect late Wednesday.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the Government of Maharashtra hereby withdraws the consent accorded to the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment…to exercise powers and jurisdiction under the said Act,” the order published as a gazette notification said.
The decision comes at a time when the Maharashtra government has been at odds with the Centre over a CBI probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. The state had strongly resisted handing over the case to the CBI when the Mumbai Police was already looking into it and had filed an accidental death report.
The home department’s decision will, however, not impact the cases that the CBI is already investigating in the state.
State granted general consent to CBI in 1989
The CBI’s power to investigate cases is derived from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that makes the consent of the state government compulsory in order to start a probe in that state. Section 6 of the Act says any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment shall not exercise powers and jurisdiction in a state without the consent of the government of that state.
The Maharashtra government had granted a general consent to the CBI on 22 February 1989, a state government official said. The home department’s Wednesday decision means the CBI will now have to seek the Maharashtra government’s permission to inquire into cases in the state in future, he added.
The state government’s decision also comes at a time when the Mumbai Police is investigating allegations that the Arnab Goswami-founded Republic TV and two other television channels manipulated Television Rating Points (TRP) for the benefit of better advertising revenue. The CBI took over a similar case within three days of an FIR being launched with the Uttar Pradesh Police about rigging of TRPs. There were concerns in Maharashtra that the CBI may take over the Mumbai Police’s investigation too.
While most states have a general consent in place for the CBI, states such as Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal withdrew it in 2018. The Andhra Pradesh government restored the general consent in 2019 after Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy took over.
In July this year, the Rajasthan government also withdrew its general consent accorded to the CBI to probe cases in the state, making it compulsory for the central agency to take the local government’s permission to enter its jurisdiction for the purposes of investigation.