The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Kerala on Wednesday revoked the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe cases on the state’s territory, following the example of five other non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-governed states.
The move means the CBI will now require permission of the Kerala government to conduct any future investigation in the state. Last month, the Maharashtra government withdrew general consent to the agency.
After consent given under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act is withdrawn, the CBI can’t file fresh first information reports (FIRs) related to entities in the states, but it will not affect ongoing investigations, according to legal experts.
Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan have also red-flagged the CBI, which the parties that rule these states allege is being used by the BJP-led government at the Centre to hound their administrations.
In Kerala, the move comes in the backdrop of central agencies making visits to the state in connection with a gold smuggling case and a drug haul in Bengaluru. But the immediate trigger was the way the central agency registered a case of alleged financial irregularities in the state’s project to build free houses for the homeless, called Life Mission, without informing the Kerala government.
“We will not allow a free run of central agencies. Many states have already complained that the CBI was interfering in issues where it has no jurisdiction. It also started questioning policy decisions of the government. We will not allow this to happen,” said state law minister AK Balan.
Last month, the government was forced to rush to the high court to quash a CBI probe of Life Mission and secured a two-month stay.
The Congress and BJP criticised the state’s decision, saying the government was scared and wanted to save people who may have received kickbacks in the Life Mission project.
CBI officials refused to comment on the matter.