TMC leader Santanu Sen on Wednesday termed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the West Bengal government’s suit against the CBI investigation in the state a victory of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held as maintainable the West Bengal government’s suit challenging the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) undertaking an investigation into the cases in the state without its statutorily mandated prior consent.

Attacking the BJP-led government at the Centre, Sen told  that the central investigation agency has become the political wing of the BJP.

“The CBI which was formed in 1963, was very much able to prove themselves as the most trustworthy political wing of the BJP. They are especially being utilised in the opposition-ruled states to gain the political benefit of the BJP,” Sen told.

“In our state in the year 2018, in November, the general consent for CBI was withdrawn. It was revoked and it was notified in parliament as well. Tamil Nadu, Telangana and ten other states have withdrawn this general consent. Despite withdrawing the general consent, we have seen that the CBI was registering several cases and they were doing an investigation against which our state went to the Supreme Court,” he added.

“We welcome this Supreme Court recognition. It’s not only the victory of Mamata Banerjee’s TMC government, it is a victory of the Indian Constitution. It is the victory of the provision of cooperative federalism, parliamentary democracy and the individual rights of the individual states as given in the Indian Constitution,” Sanatanu Sen further said.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta said the Bengal government’s suit on the CBI probing cases despite the withdrawal of consent by the state shall proceed by law on its own merits.

The apex court rejected preliminary objections of the Union government on the maintainability of the suit. The bench observed that West Bengal’s suit raised a legal issue as to whether after general consent is revoked by a State, the CBI could register and investigate cases in violation of Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.

It has now said the hearing of the suit will take place on August 13 for framing of issues.

West Bengal approaching the apex court had contended that such a situation where CBI investigating the cases without the State’s consent would be in derogation of the federal nature of the Centre-State relationship under the Indian constitution.

The Central government on the other hand had questioned the maintainability of the West Bengal government’s suit in which it has made the Central government a respondent and not the CBI.

Centre had said that CBI is an independent body and is not under the control of the Union of India and opposed West Bengal’s suit against the Centre over the CBI probes in the State.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, had raised preliminary objections on a lawsuit filed by the West Bengal government on the CBI going ahead with its probe in several post-violence cases without the prerequisite nod from the State as per law.

The West Bengal government had filed an original suit in the apex court against the Centre under Article 131 of the Constitution, alleging that the CBI has been filing FIRs and proceeding with its investigation, despite the State having withdrawn the general consent to the federal agency to investigate cases within its territorial jurisdiction.

Article 131 empowers a State to move the Supreme Court directly in case of a dispute with the Centre or any other State.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing West Bengal, had said that the CBI cannot probe cases concerning West Bengal without the State government’s general consent.

He had contended that the CBI cannot be viewed as an independent “statutory” authority. On November 16, 2018, the West Bengal government withdrew the “general consent” accorded to the CBI to conduct probe and raids in the State.

The West Bengal government in its suit while referring to provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 said that the CBI has been proceeding with the investigation and filing FIRs without getting consent from the State government as mandated under the statute.

The State government had sought a stay of investigation in FIR by CBI in cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal in pursuance of the Calcutta High Court order. It had said that as the general consent given to the central agency by the Trinamool Congress government (TMC) has been withdrawn, the FIRs lodged cannot be proceeded with.

Earlier, the Centre had told the top 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.
The Centre had stated 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.

In its affidavit, the Centre had stated 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. (ANI)