Fourteen Opposition parties on Friday moved the Supreme Court alleging that the Centre is misusing agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, Live Law reported.

The parties alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government is using central agencies in an arbitrary manner to arrest Opposition leaders.

The Indian National Congress, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazahgam and Rashtriya Janata Dal were among the parties that approached the Supreme Court, Bar and Bench reported. They have urged the court to frame pre-arrest guidelines to prevent misuse of investigative agencies.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought an urgent listing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. He alleged that 95% of investigations by the agencies are against Opposition leaders.

The court agreed to list the matter on April 5.

The case came up before the Supreme Court on a day when Opposition MPs are planning to march to Vijay Chowk in Delhi to protest the conviction of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case. A court in Surat on Thursday sentenced the Wayanad MP to two years’ imprisonment for his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname. The court, however, granted him bail and suspended his sentence for 30 days in order to allow him to appeal against the verdict.

Opposition parties have often accused the Centre of targeting them through agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax Department.

On March 5, leaders of eight Opposition parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the misuse of investigative agencies suggested “that we have transitioned from being a democracy to an autocracy”. This was a week after the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a case related to alleged irregularities in the city’s now-scrapped liquor policy.

The letter to the prime minister was signed by nine Opposition leaders – the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann, the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekhar Rao.

In December, the Centre had told Parliament that the Enforcement Directorate maintains no records on the number of cases it registers against MPs and MLAs.

However, earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate claimed that incumbent and former elected representatives account for less than 3% of the accused persons in the cases it has registered. It said that of the 5,906 cases, only 176 involved sitting and former MPs, MLAs and MLCs.

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