Supreme Court adjourns hearing on West Bengal's suit against CBI probe in post-poll violence cases

The suit said that as the general consent given to the central agency by the Trinamool Congress government has been withdrawn, the FIRs lodged cannot be proceeded with

Press Trust of India January 17, 2022 12:53:14 IST
Supreme Court adjourns hearing on West Bengal's suit against CBI probe in post-poll violence cases

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on the lawsuit filed by the West Bengal government which alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is going ahead with the investigation in post-poll violence cases without securing the prerequisite nod from the state under the law.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B V Nagarathna noted that the pleadings in the matter are complete and deferred the suit for hearing in the third week of February.

It also asked the parties to file written submissions in the matter.

Attorney General K K Venugopal said questions of constitutional law have been raised in the lawsuit and sought two days' time to argue the matter after the apex court indicated that it would like to wrap up the hearing in a day.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the West Bengal government, said it is a jurisdictional issue and will not take much time for hearing.

The Centre had earlier told the apex court that it has nothing to do with the post-poll violence cases registered by the CBI in West Bengal and the lawsuit filed by the state government in which the Union of India is made a party is not maintainable.

Venugopal had submitted that CBI being an autonomous body set up under the special Act of Parliament is the agency that is registering and investigating cases and the Centre had no role in it.

The Centre had earlier told the top court that West Bengal's power to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute and the probe agency is entitled to carry out investigations that are being carried out against Central government employees or have a pan-India impact.

The Centre had submitted an affidavit in response to a lawsuit by the West Bengal government which alleged that the CBI is going ahead with the investigation in post-poll violence cases without securing the pre-requisite nod from the state under the law.

It had said in the apex court that the Union of India has neither registered any case in West Bengal nor has it been investigating any case.

The affidavit had said that numerous investigations are being carried out against Central government employees or have either pan-India impact or impact on more than one state to investigate such offences.

It had said the consent of West Bengal was sought for some offences but it is not understood as to why the state government came in the way of such an investigation which would have an inevitable effect of shielding those who are guilty of such multi-State/pan-India offences.

The West Bengal government, in its original civil suit under Article 131 of the Constitution, referred to the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 and said that the CBI has been proceeding with the probe and filing FIRs without getting the nod from the state government as mandated under the statute.

Under Article 131, the apex court has original jurisdiction to deal with disputes between the Centre and states.

The CBI has lodged multiple FIRs in cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal.

The state government sought a stay of investigations into the FIRs lodged into post-poll violence cases by CBI in pursuance of the Calcutta High Court order.

The suit said that as the general consent given to the central agency by the Trinamool Congress government has been withdrawn, the FIRs lodged cannot be proceeded with.

It has also sought to stay for any such FIR in the future.

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