What is general consent?
- Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 which grants the CBI power to investigate a case in Delhi, without any permission, since it is part of the Centre.
- However, in all the states, the CBI needs the consent of the state to investigate any case relating to that state or having jurisdiction of that state.
- The Central police cannot investigate or enter the state without the consent of the case since police and public order are state subjects and the Centre cannot intervene in law and order matters.
- The CBI can initiate suo motu investigations only in Union Territories, under section 2 of the DSPE Act.
- The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order the CBI to investigate such a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of states.
Types of consent
- There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general.
- “General consent” is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent.
- Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
Why in News?
- The Kerala government has decided to withdraw the general consent accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation to operate in Kerala.
What does withdrawal mean?
- It means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in Kerala without getting case-specific consent.
- However, there will be no bar on investigation into cases that are already being probed by the CBI. The CBI cannot file any new FIRs in any new cases.
- Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Kerala, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to the state.
- States including West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have also similarly withdrawn consent to the CBI to operate in their respective jurisdictions freely.
- However, the government of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, which came into power in Andhra 2019, reversed the decision.