Reversing the decision of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) dispensation, the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government today restored the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases in the state.
Chief Minister Shinde cleared the proposal of the home department headed by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to reverse the decision of the MVA government, an official from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said.
On 21 October 2020, the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government had withdrawn the general consent to the CBI under the contention that the union government was misusing central probe agencies to settle political scores.
The previous Thackeray-led government’s decision had come in the wake of CBI taking over the TRP case in Uttar Pradesh and was apparently prompted by fears that a similar step might be taken in Maharashtra in connection with Mumbai Police's case on the alleged TRP scam.
Anil Deshmukh, then the home minister of the state, had voiced the MVA government’s apprehension, saying that the CBI could act under political pressure.
What the Eknath Shinde government's general consent means
The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) and officers of the union territories. The union government may extend to any area (except Union Territories) the powers and jurisdiction of the CBI for investigation, subject to the consent of the government of the state concerned.
Members of the CBI at or above the rank of sub-inspector may be considered officers in charge of police stations. Under the act, the CBI can investigate only with notification by the central government.
Andhra Pradesh had once withdrawn the general consent to CBI but restored it in 2019. In January 2019, Chhattisgarh withdrew general consent to the CBI. In July 2020, Rajasthan withdrew general consent to the central agency. In October 2020, Maharashtra withdrew general consent to the CBI. In November 2020, Kerala, Jharkhand, and Punjab withdrew general consent to the CBI. Tripura and Mizoram had previously withdrawn general consent to the CBI as well. Altogether, as things stood in November 2021, eight states required prior consent before the CBI can investigate crimes in their territory.
On 4 March, Meghalaya has withdrawn general consent to CBI, becoming the ninth state to do so. Then, responding to a question, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh informed Rajya Sabha that a total of nine states had withdrawn general consent to the CBI to investigate cases in those states.
With the reversal of this decision, the CBI will no longer require the permission of the state government to probe cases in Maharashtra.