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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Punjab becomes latest state to withdraw general consent to CBI 

Punjab has followed in the footsteps of other non-BJP ruled states, such as Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Updated: November 10, 2020 12:27:06 am
Punjab CBI consent, states withdraw CBI probe consent, Punjab farm laws protest, Punjab trains blocked, amarinder singh, indian expressThe CM Amarinder Singh-led state is also locked in a confrontation with the Centre over farm laws protests. (File)

After several non-BJP-ruled states took the step, Punjab has become the latest to withdraw general consent accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases.

Now, the investigative agency will have to seek permission from the state government to probe every case. In a notification to this effect published in state government’s gazette on November 8, Additional Chief Secretary, department of home affairs and justice, has issued orders, “In exercise of the powers conferred by section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No. 25 of 1946), the Government of Punjab hereby withdraws the general consent accorded to the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment, anytime herein before.”

The notification also reads that, “In view of revocation of all previous general consents issued earlier, prior consent of the Government of Punjab shall be required, hereinafter, on a case-to-case basis for investigation of any offence or class of offences under section 3 of the aforesaid Act, by the Delhi Special Police Establishment.

Under Section 6 of the Act, all states except Delhi and the Union Territories have the discretion to give their consent to the CBI for a probe in the state.

Punjab has followed in the footsteps of other non-BJP ruled states, such as Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

The state had earlier withdrawn consent given to cases of Bargari sacrilege and Behbal Kalan firing after the Assembly had passed a resolution to withdraw these cases from CBI.

Punjab is already locked in a confrontation with the Centre over the latter’s farm laws. The state government has sided with the farmers protesting against the laws. The state’s Legislative Assembly not only passed Bills negating the Centre’s legislation, but the CM led a dharna of legislators at Jantar Mantar in Delhi against the Union government recently.

The Centre has hit back by suspending goods trains to Punjab, citing as reason that the protesting farmers are “blocking the tracks and posing a threat to railway employees”.  The Centre has also withheld the Rural Development Fund (RDF) given to Punjab every year during the procurement of paddy. The state is set to lose Rs 1,100 crore if the Centre does not relent.

With the suspension of train traffic, the state’s thermal plants have been shut for want of coal, farmers are unable to get fertilisers, and industry consignments are stuck. The CM spoke to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday to seek his intervention, but no headway has been made yet. Now all eyes are on November 13, when the Centre has invited the farmers for a dialogue with Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar and Union railways minister Piyush Goyal, at the residence of  Union defence minister Rajnath Singh.

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