Tuesday, July 16, 2024

West Bengal’s suit against CBI probes is maintainable, rules SC


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New Delhi, July 10: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the suit filed by West Bengal against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), for allegedly proceeding with probes and filing FIRs in cases of post-poll violence without getting the state government’s nod as required under the law, is maintainable.

A Bench, headed by Justice BR Gavai, rejected the contentions raised by the Union government questioning the maintainability of the original suit filed by the plaintiff state under Article 131 of the Constitution. “We clarify that the aforesaid findings are for the purpose of deciding the preliminary objections as raised by the defendant (Union government).

However, the same will have no bearing when the suit is decided on its own merits,” said the apex court, ordering the matter to be further listed on August 13 for framing of issues in the suit. Earlier in May, the top court had reserved its verdict on the issue of maintainability after hearing the oral arguments advanced by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the plaintiff state.

The West Bengal government, in its plea, has referred to the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and said that the Central agency has been proceeding with investigations and filing FIRs without getting the nod from the state government as mandated under the statute.

On the other hand, the Centre told the apex court that a state government cannot claim a right to issue omnibus, sweeping, and overarching directions to withdraw consent for a CBI probe into any matter. An affidavit filed by the Union Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said that the state government can exercise the power to grant/refuse consent only on a case-to-case basis and for the same, good, sufficient, and germane reasons have to be recorded.

The CBI has lodged multiple FIRs in cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal. The top court had issued notice in the suit in September 2021. The state government has sought a stay of investigation in the FIRs lodged into post-poll violence cases by the CBI in pursuance of the Calcutta High Court order. The plea by the state government said that the general consent given to the CBI by the Trinamool Congress government had been withdrawn, and thus the FIRs lodged could not be proceeded with.



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