West Bengal wins round 1 versus Centre in Supreme Court on CBI probes | India News

    NEW DELHI: Supreme Court Wednesday trashed the multiple grounds cited by Centre to seek dismissal of West Bengal‘s constitutional suit raising a Centre-state dispute on CBI allegedly illegally carrying out probes in the state despite the Trinamool Congress govt’s revocation of the general consent to the agency to start probes on its own.
    Rejecting preliminary objections raised by SG Tushar Mehta seeking dismissal of the suit and accepting contentions of advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared for WB, a bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta posted the suit for framing of issues on Aug 13.
    Centre’s main contention was that CBI is neither a state, nor its investigation supervised by the Centre, and hence the state cannot claim any relief against Union govt. As the state’s grievances are mainly against CBI, it could not have filed a suit without making the central agency a party.
    Dealing with Mehta’s submissions, the bench said, “We find that SG’s contention that even if CBI, being an independent agency, is considered to be an instrumentality of the State under Article 12 of Constitution, it cannot be equated with Government of India as contemplated under Article 131 of Constitution, in our view, holds no water.”
    Writing the 74-page judgment, Justice Gavai said, “In our view, CBI is an organ or a body, which is established by and which is under superintendence of Govt of India in view of the statutory scheme as enacted by the DSPE Act.”
    He said, “No doubt that powers of superintendence of central govt would not relate to superintendence of investigation of a particular case (which is vested with Central Vigilance Commission by a judgment of SC) and the probe agency (CBI) would always be entitled to investigate the offences independently.”
    “However, that would not water down the administrative control and superintendence of DSPE that vests with Centre. In that view of the matter, we find that the contention in that regard needs to be rejected,” the bench said.
    It said, “It is the case of WB (plaintiff) that CBI is established (under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act) by the Union govt (defendant), its exercise of powers is controlled by the defendant and its functioning is also under the superintendence of the defendant. Therefore, it cannot be said that the plaintiff has not made out any cause of action against the defendant.”
    SC said under the DSPE Act, CBI can probe a case in a state only after a notification is issued by Centre specifying the case and area involved in the particular case with prior consent of the state govt.
    West Bengal in its suit filed under Article 131 of the Constitution had argued that it withdrew general consent on Nov 16, 2018, CBI could not have continued to register cases and exercise its powers under the DSPE Act. “Continuation of registration of cases and exercise of powers after withdrawal of the consent is an act of constitutional overreach,” the state contended.

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