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Kerala withdraws general consent for all future CBI investigations in the State [READ NOTIFICATION]

Kerala joined a list of non-BJP ruled states in revoking the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for exercising its jurisdiction in the State. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier stated that the CBI exceeded its brief in investigating the recent gold smuggling case to “malign and destabilize the constitutionally elected government.”

By: Adil Zawahir, 3rd Year Law Student at School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be) University, Bengaluru.

The Government of Kerala issued the notification on November 4 in the Kerala Gazette. It states:

In exercise of the powers conferred under section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment DSPE Act, 1946 (Central Act 25 of 1946), the Government of Kerala hereby revoke all previous notifications wherein general consent was granted to the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction under the said Act in the state for the investigation of the offences under section 3 of the said Act.”

The notification also notes that revocation of consent is only concerning future cases. The notification states explicitly that “the revocation will not affect pending investigations of cases initiated based on the consent issued under section 6 of the said Act.”

The CBI has been constituted by the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.

Section 6 of this Act states that it cannot exercise powers and jurisdiction under the Act in any area in a State without the consent of the government of that State.

Section 6 of the DSPE Act requires the consent of the State government for the CBI to exercise jurisdiction and to investigate the offences enumerated under Section 3 of the Act in the areas specified by the Government of India by a notification under Section 5 of the Act.

This exact requirement of consent from the Kerala Government now stands revoked. Effectively, this bars the CBI from investigating cases in the State.

The Supreme Court or the concerned High Court may still order a CBI probe in individual cases.

There is a fair share of politics involved in this revocation of consent. The recent gold smuggling case has been highlighted in the media. In addition to this, in October,the Kerala High Court had stayed the CBI probe into the LIFE Mission case, which involves a Kerala Government initiative to provide shelter and housing to the homeless and those affected by the floods of 2018. The CBI had alleged that the funds for this project were obtained in violation of FCRA norms. In the light of these events, the Kerala CM has openly stated that the CBI has exceeded its brief to “malign and destabilize the constitutionally elected government.”

Kerala is not the first State to revoke its consent to the CBI. The Maharashtra government revoked its consent as recently as October 21. Earlier, the Government of Rajasthan withdrew its consent in July. And before that, the West Bengal and Chhattisgarh Governments had also revoked such consent in 2018 and 2019 respectively. YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the CM of Andhra Pradesh, restored the revoked consent when he came to power.

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