The state governments of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have withdrawn their “general consent” to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct raids and investigations. While the Opposition alleged that states were losing faith in central agencies due to their “misuse” by the Narendra Modi government, the ruling BJP dubbed the move a “clear mala fide exercise of power” by “corrupt parties” to protect their interests.
The CBI or any other central government agency established under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act will now need prior consent of the respective state government to conduct investigation in these states.
Andhra Pradesh Home Minister N Chinarajappa told reporters that the reason to withdraw the consent last week was recent allegations against top CBI officials. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was extending her support to the Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Chandrababu Naidu (pictured), as the BJP was using the CBI and other agencies to pursue its own political vendetta.
“We have not received the AP government’s orders revoking general consent to the CBI for probing central government officials in the state. Once we receive it, we will examine it and take steps accordingly," said a CBI spokesperson. Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP), a former ally of the BJP, walked out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance government earlier this year, citing the Centre's refusal to extend the special category status to AP. In recent months, Naidu has accused the Centre of using its investigative agencies against its political opponents, including him. He has termed the recent income tax raids on some businessmen and politicians close to the TDP as an attack on his government.
The YSR Congress alleged that general consent was withdrawn to prevent a possible central probe into the failed attempt made on the life of its leader, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, last month.
Section 5 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, gives the central government powers to extend the jurisdiction of members of Delhi Special Police Establishment for investigation of any offence or classes of offences specified in a notification under Section 3. The CBI traces its origin to this Act. However, Section 6 of the Act mandates a prior consent from a state to exercise these powers in its jurisdiction.