Kerala on Wednesday joined other non-BJP states to withdraw the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct inquiries in the state, the Hindustan Times reported. Now, the investigating agency has to approach the state government on a case to case basis, seeking permission to conduct inquiry.
The CBI comes under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and requires states to give it general consent to look into allegations against central government employees within a state. This is because the police and public order fall under the purview of state governments, which regularly renew their permission.
On October 21, Maharashtra had withdrawn its general consent given to the CBI for conducting investigations. Rajasthan also withdrew consent earlier this year, while West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh revoked it in 2019. However, the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government reversed the decision after he was elected to power in Andhra Pradesh.
The Communist Party of India welcomed the Kerala government’s move, according to The Week. Party leader Kanam Rajendran said no one was against any inquiries by any central agency, “but using them as a tool for political gains and to create a smokescreen till the upcoming elections was not right”.
Opposition parties, however, criticised the move, with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party alleging that the decision was taken to hide ‘’rampant corruption’’ of the state government. “The Kerala government is afraid of the CBI,” said Mullappally Ramachandran, the Congress chief of Kerala unit. “They should make it clear whether they have the same stance with regard to the CBI at the national level too.”
Union minister V Muraleedharan said that the CBI investigation into the allegations of corruption in the LIFE Mission had forced the state government to withdraw its consent. He was referring to the alleged irregularities in a state housing project for the homeless. On October 13, the Kerala High Court had stayed the CBI investigation into LIFE Mission for two months.
The Kerala government had given permission to the CBI in 2017. An unidentified official at the Kerala chief minister’s office told The Week that the Pinarayi Vijayan-led dispensation took the decision because of the way the Centre was using the CBI to attack state governments. “The unusual hurry that CBI showed to investigate the allegations against LIFE Mission is totally politically motivated,” the official said.