Kerala

Kerala withdraws general consent accorded to CBI to probe cases

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.   | Photo Credit: S. Gopakumar

A meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday decided to withdraw the general consent accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to operate in Kerala voluntarily.

The controversial decision was likely to strain the government's fraught relationship with the Centre further. However, the government was not without allies.

At a stroke, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) appeared to have found the common political cause with other non-BJP-ruled States. They included West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The States have also similarly withdrawn consent to the CBI to operate in their respective jurisdictions freely.

Like them, the Kerala government has invoked the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which governs the CBI, to bridle the agency's operational independence in the State.

The government said the law clearly states that law and order and crime investigation are State subjects. The CBI could probe local cases or charge-sheet suspects only with the permission of the State administration.

The government had already thrown down the gauntlet on the Centre by legally challenging the decision of the CBI to investigate Life Mission officials on the charge of violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

It had also denied CBI permission to charge sheet officials of the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation on the charge of corruption in the procurement of raw nuts during the UDF government.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Monday slammed Central law enforcement agencies for using the UAE gold smuggling case as a cover to destabilise the State government. The government would legally and politically counter the jurisdictional overreach of the Central agencies, he had said.

The BJP and Congress had portrayed the State's stonewalling of Central agencies by citing federalism as deceit to cover-up corruption.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 4:59:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-withdraws-general-consent-to-cbi/article33023232.ece

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