Meghalaya withdrew its consent
A concern has been expressed by The Supreme Court of India over a CBI statement that is, as of 2018, about 150 applications for sanctions of investigation are pending with eight state governments. The governments have withdrawn their consent to CBI.
This is not an advisory position, said a bench chaired by Judge SK Kaul, and the case was attributed to the Chief Justice of India N V Ramana. The CBI filed the affidavit after a court asked last month about the obstacles the company faced and the steps it took to strengthen the prosecution.
What is General Consent?
The National Investigation Agency is being regulated under the NIA Act, 2008, it has also gained jurisdiction across India. The CBI is regulated under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 (DSPE). It is necessary for CBI to take the consent of the relevant State government before initiation of an investigation of any crime in any state.
State government consent can be case-specific or general.
Generally, the states of India provide “general consent” to assist the CBI in the transparent investigation of corruption cases against central government employees in their states. Almost all states in India have traditionally given their consent, but in the absence of their consent, the CBI will have to go to the state government before even taking small steps.
It is stated under section6 of the DSPE Act” State Government Consent to Exercise Powers and Authority”) that: “Nothing in Section 5 (“Extension of Powers and Jurisdiction”) of the Special Police Station to other areas is deemed to permit any member of the Delhi Special Police Station to exercise its powers and jurisdiction in any area of any State, other than a union territory or a railway sector, without the consent of the government of that State.
Consent has been withdrawn by Meghalaya to the CBI to investigate the cases in the state, becoming the ninth state in the nation to have taken the step in recent years. However, unlike most other states, Meghalaya is ruled by Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP), part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
Meghalaya has also withdrawn her consent, the reason is yet unknown,” said a government official. While Minister of Meghalaya Lahkmen Rymbui stated that he was “unable to comment” on development, appeals to Minister Sangma remained unanswered.
However, addressing local journalists at the Meghalaya Council on Friday afternoon, Sangma described the development as “standard procedure”. “The decision by the government was made a long time ago I don’t remember the date, it was done a long time ago,” he said.
“So that’s a normal thing. Many states have taken this decision, and it moves in this direction. Anyone coming here must have the consent of the state, that is all. This is the normal course of action,” he said.
Other states withdrew their consent – Mizoram being the first, followed by Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala – all ruled by the opposing party. The states has alleged that the CBI is unfair and objective and it has become the Center’s tool to target opposition leaders.
Withdrawal of consent means that the CBI will be unable to investigate any matter within the state without the permission of the state government.
In Meghalaya, which is set to vote next year, the decision comes amid corruption allegations against the Minister’s brother, James PK Sangma. He was accused of corruption in the implementation of the “Subhagya scheme” – providing electrical connectivity to all households – with Congress demanding a CBI investigation into the alleged fraud.
Earlier, the Minister divested the investment of James Sangma of Home following new allegations that he allowed unions to carry out illegal coal mining and transportation.
In November 2018, the West Bengal government led by Mamata Banerjee withdrew its overarching consent, hours after Andhra Pradesh, then ruled by the TDP of N Chandrababu Naidu. However, after Naidu’s government was replaced by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019, Andhra Pradesh restored consent.
Chhattisgarh had withdrawn its consent in January 2019, followed by Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala, and Jharkhand in 2020.