'CBI Is A Body Under Superintendence Of Centre': SC in WB Vs Centre Suit Over Case Filing Spree

SC agreed with Centre’s argument that its superintendence will not relate to cases being registered, probed and prosecuted by CBI.
Supreme Court

West Bengal's suit on CBI probe despite withdrawal of general consent maintainable: SC

New Delhi: While holding as “maintainable” the original suit filed by West Bengal government against Centre regarding the “misuse” of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and continuing to file cases in the state despite the state withdrawing general consent way back in 2018, Supreme Court today remarked that CBI is an organ or a body which is established by and which is under the superintendence of the Government of India in view of the statutory scheme as enacted by the DSPE Act.
The bench led by Justice B R Gavai said however agreed with Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s argument that superintendence of the Centre does not relate to cases being registered, probed and prosecuted by the agency
“No doubt that the powers of superintendence of the Central Government would not relate to the superintendence of investigation of a particular case and the investigating agency (CBI) would always be entitled to investigate the offences independently”, said the bench
The Bench said “however, that would not water down the administrative control and superintendence of the DSPE that vests with the Central Government”.
In that view of the matter, we find that the contention of the learned Solicitor General that even if the CBI, being an independent agency, is considered to be an instrumentality of the State under Article 12 of the Constitution, it cannot be equated to the term Government of India as contemplated under Article 131 of the Constitution, in our view, holds no water. We further find that the very establishment, exercise of powers, extension of jurisdiction, the superintendence of the DSPE, all vest with the Government of India. In that view of the matter, in our opinion, the reliance placed by the learned Solicitor General on the judgment of this Court in the case of State of Bihar v. Union of India and Another (supra), is not well placed. In our view, the CBI is an organ or a body which is established by and which is under the superintendence of the Government of India in view of the statutory scheme as enacted by the DSPE Act, it remarked.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for Centre had argued that even if it had administrative control over CBI, did not have any say over its day to day functioning like registering a case or investigating or prosecution. Also, SG said the Original suit under Article 131 of the Constitution is only filed in a dispute between the Union and a State or between States not in any dispute between a state and an investigating agency. Centre had also argued same issues, same question of law is pending in SC, Calcutta HC. Pending litigation cannot be re-litigated under art 131.
At the same time Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal for WB govt had argued CBI comes under the Centre. Sec 4(2) of DSPE Act suggests CBI its under department of DoPT of the centre. Also when a question on CBI is asked in the parliament its a minister of state in the central govt in charge of DoPT who answers the question not CBI. Even the cases and affidavits in courts on behalf of CBI is filed by DoPT
In so far as reliance placed by the learned Solicitor General on the judgments of this Court in the cases of Vineet Narain (supra) and State of West Bengal and Others v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal and Others18 is concerned, no doubt that the powers of superintendence of the Central Government would not relate to the superintendence of investigation of a particular case and the investigating agency (CBI) would always be entitled to investigate the offences independently.
However, that would not water down the administrative control and superintendence of the DSPE that vests with the Central Government. In that view of the matter, we find that the contention in that regard needs to be rejected.

THE ARGUMENTS OF CENTRE

-CBI is an independent agency uncontrolled by the Centre
-Centre even if it had administrative control over CBI, did not have any say over its day to day functioning like registering a case or investigating or prosecution
-Also Original suit under Article 131 of the Constitution is only filed in a dispute between the Union and a State or between States not in any dispute between a state and an investigating agency
-Centre had also argued same issues, same question of law is pending in SC, Calcutta HC. Pending litigation cannot be re-litigated under art 131.

WB’s ARGUMENT
-Centre was violating federal structure/principles of the country by registering cases in West Bengal despite withdrawal of general consent.
-CBI could register cases in states, which have withdrawn general consent under Section 6 of DSPE Act, only when there is a direction by courts to take over the case.
-Law and order and police were constitutionally put under the exclusive jurisdiction of the states and that the registration of cases by the CBI were illegal and a transgression of the constitutionally distributed powers between the Centre and the states
-CBI comes under the Centre. Sec 4(2) of DSPE Act suggests CBI’s under dept of DoPT of the centre
-Also when a question on CBI is asked in the parliament its a minister of state in the central govt in charge of DoPT who answers the question not CBI
-Even the cases and affidavits in courts on behalf of CBI is filed by DoPT

WHICH ARE THE CASES WB OPPOSING

-They included coal smuggling case (in which Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira were summoned) and high profile cattle smuggling case
-Other instances cited by the government included the CBI case against former vice-chancellor of Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan, for alleged misappropriation of money,
-Registration of a case on complaint of Calcutta HC about forgery of its document
End of Article
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