Jharkhand has become the seventh non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state to withdraw the general consent that allows the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct probes in states. Here is a look at why it happened and what it means:
1. The CBI’s ongoing probes will not be affected but the federal agency cannot investigate new cases in these seven states.
2. The agency has been unable to register any cases at its Mumbai branch since the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government withdrew the general consent on October 21. Usually, three-to-four cases pertaining to corruption or bank frauds were registered at the agency’s Mumbai unit every month. After New Delhi, Mumbai accounts for a majority of the CBI’s cases registered annually.
3. Maharashtra government’s decision came as the CBI took over the probe into alleged Television Rating Point (TRP) manipulations based on a case registered in Lucknow when the Mumbai police were investigating the matter. The state government feels the Centre was using the agency to circumvent investigations by the local police especially in the cases related to the death actor of Sushant Singh Rajput and the TRP scam.
4. Other non-BJP-ruled states that have withdrawn the consent have accused the Centre of using the agency for political vendetta. They are West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala.
5. The CBI expects high courts and the Supreme Court to step in as evidence is likely to be tempered with in corruption cases in the absence of registration of cases and subsequent raids.
6. The withdrawal of the consent is not unprecedented but never have so many states withdrawn the consent to the federal investigating agency.
7. As per the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that governs the CBI, the agency requires prior consent to exercise its authority in states.