The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Central Bureau of Investigation cannot step into an inquiry and the Centre cannot extend the agency’s jurisdiction in a state without permission from the relevant state government, NDTV reported.
The judgement passed by a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai, in an Uttar Pradesh corruption case, holds significance with eight Opposition-ruled states having withdrawn general consents for CBI inquiries. 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.
Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Mizoram have so far withdrawn their consents in the last few months.
On Tuesday, the top court cited Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to rule that the investigation agency’s jurisdiction is subject to the state governments’ consent.
“Obviously, the provisions are in tune with the federal character of the Constitution, which has been held to be one of the basic structures of the Constitution,” the judgement said, according to Bar and Bench.
The court was hearing an appeal against an Allahabad High Court judgement in a case of corruption related to Fuel Supply Agreement (FSA) between Coal India Limited and appellant, Fertico Marketing and Investment Private Limited, Bar and Bench reported.
The CBI, in its investigation, had found that the coal bought under the agreement was sold in the black market, leading to a loss of Rs 36.28 crore to the Central government. Cases were registered against Fertico’s director and unknown officials of the District Industries Centre.
After further investigation, the state government had given permission to prosecute District Industries Centre officers Ram Ji Singh and Yogendra Nath Pandey. For probe against public servants under the state government, sanction is needed on a case-to-case basis, according to Bar and Bench.