SC to examine nature of consent needed from states for CBI probe

NEW DELHI
4 Jan 2018

The Supreme Court today agreed to examine a plea of the CBI seeking a clarification on the nature of sanction needed from a state government for conducting any inquiry or investigation into an offence in the state.
The agency challenged a limited part of the order of the Delhi High Court passed in the case of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh on March 31, 2017, in which it had said that the consent issue will be adjudiciated by the trial court.
A bench of justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre issued notice to the former chief minister and sought his reply in four weeks.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation, said that the agency has challenged only the limited issue of consent in the high court verdict. The high court had stated that the matter be decided at the time of the trial.
The CBI has said that section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, does not talk about the nature of consent and, therefore, it needs a clarification on the issue as it would affect its power to investigate cases.
Section 6 of DSPSE Act deals with the consent of a state government for exercising of the powers and jurisdiction by the CBI officials.
The CBI had contended before the high court that there was a general consent granted by the Himachal Pradesh government on August 24, 1990, to probe the offences of central government employees in the territory of the state.
Virbhadra Singh, on the other hand, had contended in the high court that the consent order does not take within its scope a central minister who served as a public servant at Delhi under the central government.
He had said that he was not an official "of a central government department or any other central institution located in the territory of Himachal Pradesh".
The high court had, however, said it will be for the trial court to look into the consent order aspect when the charge sheet was filed as it would then emerge as to what was the material/evidence collected by the investigating agency that was sought to be relied upon by the prosecution.
"The issue whether such consent had been obtained generally, or specifically, as well as the issue as to what is the effect of the investigation conducted, if any, without obtaining the prior consent of the government of Himachal Pradesh, cannot be determined in the present proceedings and would fall for consideration, if and when a charge sheet is filed before the learned special judge," it had said.
In the same order, the high court had refused to quash the disproportionate assets case filed by the CBI against Virbhadra Singh and his wife, saying there was no basis to claim that the FIR was the result of any "political vendetta".
It had vacated the Himachal Pradesh High Court's October 1, 2015 interim order restraining the CBI from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without the court's permission.
It had also turned down the question framed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court, whether the permission of the Speaker of the state Assembly was mandatory before the registration of an FIR. (PTI)