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West Bengal government’s plea on maintainability of CBI probes: SC reserves verdict

The CBI has lodged multiple FIRs in cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal, while the state government had vehemently objected to it.

wbNEW DELHI: Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the West Bengal government’s suit alleging that the CBI is pressing ahead with investigation into post-poll violence cases in the state, without securing its prior nod as per the law.

A two-judge bench of the top court, led by Justice B R Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta, reserved its verdict after hearing detailed arguments from WB government and Centre.

The Centre, through its senior lawyer, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, told the apex court that a state government cannot claim right to issue omnibus, sweeping, and overarching directions to withdraw consent for a CBI probe into any matter.

“The state government can exercise the power to grant/refuse consent only on a case-to-case basis only,” Mehta said and sought that the WB government’s plea should be dismissed by the SC.

It is to be noted that the CBI has lodged multiple FIRs in cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal, while the state government had vehemently objected to it.

Mehta also raised a preliminary objection on the lawsuit filed by the West Bengal government and said that the state’s original suit was not maintainable.

“The CBI is an independent body and not the one coming under the Central government. Therefore, the Central government cannot be sued in the matter,” Mehta told the top court.

He further accused the West Bengal government of trying to litigate the same issue in two different cases before the apex court.

The Bench was hearing arguments in an original suit filed by the West Bengal government against the Centre over the alleged misuse of CBI in matters concerning the State.

Opposing the arguments of Mehta, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who appeared for WB government, told the top court that the CBI could not probe cases concerning West Bengal without the State government’s general consent.

Raising questions on how the CBI can probe cases within its territory without the concerned state government’s prior sanctions, Sibal said, “We are dealing with a statute (Delhi Special Police Establishment Act) that impacts the federal structure of this country. General Consent is necessary before you get entry in the State,” Sibal said.

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