“Now, taking specific consent again on a case-to-case basis is timeconsuming and at times may be detrimental to timely and prompt investigation. It is noteworthy to mention that CBI has sent over 150 requests to the Governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kerala, and Mizoram during the period 2018 to June 2021 for the grant of specific consent for the investigation of cases in the territory of these States.
“The aforesaid requests were made for investigating trap cases, disproportionate assets cases, cases relating to allegations of cheating, forgery, misappropriation, and loss of foreign exchange and also bank fraud cases. Requests were granted in less than 18 per cent of cases…” NDTV said in a report quoting the CBI Director’s affidavit filed in the country’s top court.
Informally, serving and former officers are clear that every delay leads to the obfuscation of justice by the destruction of evidence. Almost all of them stated that the present NDA Government under PM Modi had hardly ever sought details of cases where investigations were proceeding. In fact, they say that this free hand has helped in greater cohesion and liberty to take up cases whenever the CBI felt it needed to investigate.
The only way out
So what is the way from this conundrum in the Diamond Jubilee year of the CBI?
Governed as it is by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSEA), the law makes the CBI a special wing of Delhi Police with its principal jurisdiction limited to Delhi. For other matters, the CBI needs the green light of the state where it will conduct its investigations. Other Central Government agencies, for example, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), do not need this NoC since by law they enjoy an all-India jurisdiction.
It is time for the Government to consider amending the law to give the CBI the all-India reach of the NIA. The courts, too, can play their part by asking states to provide in writing reasons why they will not all investigations by the CBI and strike down this insidious blanket immunity that the states enjoy