‘General consent’ according to the Central agency to exercise its authority in States withdrawn
Setting the stage for a bitter confrontation between the Centre and States, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal Governments have withdrawn the “general consent” accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to exercise its authority in the States.
First, it was Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu whose Government declared that the CBI cannot conduct raids or investigations in his State without permission. Hours later West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee followed suit.
Backing Andhra Pradesh CM, Mamata said, “What Chandrababu has done is right. The CBI receives instructions from the BJP.”
“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, Government hereby withdraws the general consent accorded (in GO Ms 109) to all the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise the powers and jurisdiction under the said Act in the State of Andhra Pradesh,” the Andhra Government notification said.
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N China Rajappa justified the State Government’s action saying it was taken against the backdrop of certain allegations against the country’s premier investigating agency.
“We have trust in the CBI but the recent allegations against its top officials have made us withdraw the general consent. Henceforth, the CBI has to obtain the State Government’s permission for investigating every case,” Rajappa told the media.
The general consent was withdrawn on the advice of lawyers and intellectuals, Rajappa claimed.
Even the Government in Karnataka had withdrawn the general consent for the CBI, he pointed out. Rajappa, however, clarified the CBI could take up an investigation against Central Government officials without the State’s permission. “We will grant necessary permission whenever the CBI makes a request,” he added.
On August 3 this year, the AP Government issued the GO Ms No. 109 according “general consent” to all members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise the powers and jurisdiction in AP against officials of the Central Government, Central Government undertakings and private persons for investigating offences under various laws, including the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Reacting to the decision taken by Andhra and Bengal, the Congress on Friday said it is a “dangerous trend” that States Governments “no longer have faith” in the CBI.
“Unfortunately in the last four-and-a-half years, they (CBI and other agencies) have been treated like private armies of Amit Shah or Modi and that is why people doubt the ability of the CBI to act independently,” Congress leader Pawan Khera alleged.
The Congress leader said the recent goings-on in the CBI is a “very serious matter” and people should not lose faith in such premier agencies.
Ever since he snapped ties with the NDA in March, Chandrababu had been accusing the Centre of misusing the CBI to target political opponents. The recent raids by Income Tax authorities on some business establishments run by those close to the ruling Telugu Desam Party in the State have left Chandrababu red-faced. Subsequently, he announced that his Government would not provide police cover to the IT officials for conducting the raids.
Meanwhile, CBI spokesperson in Delhi said they have not yet received any such orders and will respond legally to it.
Opposition parties in AP decried the move and asserted the State Government did not have the authority to bar the CBI. The principal opposition YSR Congress alleged the controversial decision was taken only because the Chief Minister was scared of the CBI.
“Chandrababu should explain why he is blocking the CBI from the state,” YSRC Political Affairs Committee member Ambati Rambabu said. The ban order was issued at a time when the YSRC requested President Ram Nath Kovind and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for a “third party investigation” into the attack on Leader of Opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, he said.
Former Congress MP Undavalli Arun Kumar, a trained lawyer, likened the State Government order, barring the CBI, to a “tissue paper” and said it would damage AP’s image. “The State Government order is not valid. The CBI can take up probe on the directions of the court. Only in matters related to the State does the agency require the Government’s permission,” he said.
CPI State Secretary K Ramakrishna also questioned the State Government’s authority in prohibiting the functioning of CBI.
BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao also alleged the Chandrababu Government’s decision was a “clear malafide exercise of power” to ensure that its “corruption” was not exposed. It showed that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which was in power in the State and had formed an alliance with parties like the Congress to take on the BJP, had many skeletons in its cupboards, he alleged. read more posts…
“A nervous and completely rattled Naidu is trying to save his Government,” Rao told reporters in Delhi.
Saturday, 17 November 2018 | PNS | Amaravati/New Delhi/Kolkata–
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