India

West Bengal wins round 1 against Centre in Supreme Court over CBI probes | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: High Council On Wednesday the various grounds that were Centre to seek dismissal of West Bengal’s constitutional suit raising a dispute between the centre and the state CBI allegedly conducting illegal investigations in the state despite the Trinamool Congress government withdrawing blanket permission for the agency to initiate investigations on its own.
After dismissing the preliminary objections of SG Tushar Mehta seeking dismissal of the suit and accepting the arguments of advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for WB, a bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta listed the suit for hearing on August 13.
The Centre’s main argument was that CBI is not a state, nor is the investigation supervised by the Centre, and therefore the state cannot claim any compensation from the Union government. Since the state’s grievances are primarily against CBI, it could not have filed a suit without making the central agency a party.
While dealing with Mehta’s arguments, the court said, “We are of the view that the contention of the SG that even if the CBI, being an independent agency, is considered to be an instrumentality of the State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, it cannot be equated with the Government of India within the meaning of Article 131 of the Constitution, does not, in our view, stand.”
In the 74-page judgment, Justice Gavai said, “We are of the view that the CBI is a body or agency constituted and supervised by the Government of India, in light of the statutory scheme laid down in the DSPE Act.”
He said: “There is no doubt that the central government’s powers of surveillance have no connection with the supervision of the investigation into a specific case (which has been assigned to the Central Vigilance Commission by a Supreme Court order) and that the investigating agency (CBI) always has the right to investigate the violations independently.”
“However, that would not dilute the administrative control and supervision of DSPE that rests with Centre. In that view of the matter, we find that the claim in that regard must be rejected,” the court said.
It said: “It is the case of WB (plaintiff) that CBI has been established (under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act) by the Union govt (defendant), exercise of powers is controlled by the defendant and its functioning is also under the supervision of the defendant. Therefore, it cannot be said that the plaintiff has not made out any cause of action against the defendant.”
The Supreme Court held that under the DSPE Act, the CBI can investigate a case in a state only after the Centre issues a notification specifying the case and the area involved, with the prior consent of the state government.
West Bengal, in its suit filed under Article 131 of the Constitution, had contended that since it withdrew the general consent on November 16, 2018, CBI could not continue to register cases and exercise its powers under the DSPE Act. “Continuation of registration of cases and exercise of powers after withdrawal of consent is an act of constitutional excess,” the state had argued.

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