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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Kerala considers withdrawing general consent to CBI probe

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, however, said the move to curb CBI in the state is suicidal and part of an attempt to cover up corruption in the Life Mission scheme.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: October 25, 2020 8:31:21 am
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

The Kerala government is considering withdrawing general consent given to the CBI to investigate cases in the state.

This has gained ground after leading constituents of the ruling LDF, CPI(M) and CPI, wanted the government to take steps to curb CBI taking up probes, like some other states have done.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, however, said the move to curb CBI in the state is suicidal and part of an attempt to cover up corruption in the Life Mission scheme.

State Law Minister and senior CPI(M) leader A K Balan said, “Many states have already withdrawn the general consent given to CBI to investigate cases. Kerala is also thinking on those lines after CPI(M) and CPI have put forward the demand. States had given general consent to CBI during the days when the agency had credibility. Now, CBI is interfering in issues in which they don’t have any jurisdiction,’’ he said.

Balan said, “We cannot question the powers of the central agency. At the same time, as per Section 6 of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, CBI has to get the consent from respective states before registering a case. We want to retain that protection for state governments. Through an executive order in the past, CBI had been given a general consent by states to probe cases. Many states have withdrawn that consent, and that option is now before the Kerala government also.”

Earlier, the CBI had registered an FIR in a case of alleged Foreign Currency Regulations Act (FCRA) violation by Life Mission, a state government entity, based on a complaint from Congress legislator Anil Akkara. Life Mission, under the local self-government department, challenged the FIR in High Court, which earlier this month stayed the CBI probe.

The HC observed that Life Mission does not fall within the ambit of FCRA Section 3, which deals with prohibition from accepting foreign contributions.

Balan said in the Life Mission project case, CBI stepped into an area where it does not have jurisdiction. “When CBI engages in such activities, we are forced to challenge them. The Kerala government has got a relief from HC in that issue,” he said.

Editorial | Centre’s Bureau? States withdrawing general consent should worry the CBI — onus is on the agency, not its masters, to ensure its credibility

Earlier, CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the party wanted the government to look into legal options to prevent “misuse” of CBI as a political weapon. “Even Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has stated against using CBI as a political weapon. States have every right to decide on the probe agency in a state-level issue as per the federal principles,” he said.

CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said, “We are not against CBI. But the agency should take up cases only with the consent of the state.”

But Opposition leader Chennithala said, “The CPI(M) has realised that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will come under the CBI scanner in the Life Mission case. The corrupt deal in the scheme was with the knowledge of Vijayan. In other states, CBI might have been used for political ends, but in Kerala, the agency is being targeted for probing a corruption case. The attempt to prevent the CBI probe is a challenge to the people of Kerala.”

Also read | Maharashtra withdraws ‘general consent’ to CBI: what this means, which cases it will impact

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