The West Bengal government’s lawsuit alleging the misuse of the Central Bureau of Investigation by the Union government is maintainable, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday, reported Bar and Bench.

Rejecting the Centre’s argument that the state had suppressed material facts, a bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta held that the plea disclosed a cause of action, Live Law reported.

The order came as part of the proceedings in a petition filed by the West Bengal government in 2021. The state government has accused the Central Bureau of Investigation of launching investigations in several cases in West Bengal without its consent.

The West Bengal government had withdrawn its general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2019. Without general consent, the central agency is required to approach the state government on a case-to-case basis and seek permission before conducting any inquiry.

The petition was filed under Article 131 of the Constitution that empowers the Supreme Court to hear disputes between the Centre and one or more states.

In the hearing on May 2, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, had told the Supreme Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation is an independent body and is not controlled by the Centre.

He had also objected to the maintainability of the West Bengal government’s lawsuit and said it had been filed against the Union government instead of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

“It is submitted that the Union of India has neither registered any case in the state, neither can it register any case, nor it has been investigating any case,” Mehta had told the court. “On the other hand, as per the pending proceedings, it is the CBI which has registered FIRs [first information reports] and is investigating cases.”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the West Bengal government, contended that the Central Bureau of Investigation is an investigating arm of the Union government.

“The CBI cannot say that I will not accept what the Union says,” he told the court. “I am an independent agency…It will be a shocking statement to make.”

On May 8, the Supreme Court had reserved its judgement on the maintainability of West Bengal’s lawsuit.

The court will hear the matter next on August 13 for framing of issues.