On Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, followed the footsteps of his counterpart in Maharashtra. The Kerala government will withdraw the blanket ‘general consent’ given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct probes in its territory. The CBI will now have to take the state government’s permission before registering any cases in Kerala, reported News18 and others.
Kerala’s cabinet decided today to withdraw general consent given to the CBI, curtailing its powers in the State. Following this decision, CBI will require permission from State government on case-to-case basis to conduct probe. @ddnewslive
— DD News Malayalam (@DDNewsMalayalam) November 4, 2020
With this crucial decision, Kerala government joins the growing list of non-Bharatiya Janata Party government states Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh which have withdrawn the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI also lacks a “general consent” from Mizoram, added an India Today report. This ‘consent’ is akin to a blanket nod for the agency to probe scheduled offences specified in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSE) Act, 1946. Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has countrywide jurisdiction to take over any case related to terrorism, the CBI requires the consent of the state government concerned under Section 6 of the DPSE Act, the law that governs the agency’s functioning, stated the report.
The Kerala cabinet met on Wednesday and took this decision. India Today and News18 cited sources, to report that the immediate provocation for the decision was the CBI case being registered to probe ‘life mission’ housing project, a flagship initiative of the Kerala government to provide shelter and housing to the homeless. The project was stalled temporarily after the CBI registered a case to probe alleged irregularities in the ‘Life Mission’, forcing the state government to approach the high court. The high court had stayed the CBI investigation for two months reported News18.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on November 2 had said that various central investigating agencies probing into the gold smuggling case were “exceeding their jurisdiction in a concerted effort to malign and destabilise the constitutionally elected government in the state”.
“Investigation is what an agency should do privately. People from outside the agency are announcing through the media about how the agencies will work, what they will do next. The agency works the next day exactly how these people announce beforehand. Selective leakage of statements is happening based on agenda,” Vijayan had said, adding that a professional investigation should be conducted with an open mind. “Investigative agencies don’t have the right to interfere in government projects while they are being implemented reported News18. As part of the constitution, there is CAG to look into the income and expenses of the government. If the investigation agencies look into the state government projects while they are implemented, they are interfering with the project and it affects the common man. The CAG is there to look into this,” he said.
Vijayan said the state government’s right to take policy decisions and their authority will not be surrendered before anyone. A day later the Kerala government issued an order withdrawing general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases without prior permission.
Meanwhile, Kerala BJP president K Surendran alleged that the Kerala CM took the decision to “to protect himself” reported Mathrubhumi. “The CM has come under the scanner after probe into cases including gold smuggling. Names of people who received a share of the swindled money are being unveiled. Amidst this, the government has decided to ban CBI,” Surendran told mediaperons, adding that the “central investigation agencies will continue the probe until the truth comes to light.”