CBI Entry Spurs ED: West Bengal Argues Against State Probes

Mainstream
03-May-2024
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In a significant legal confrontation, the West Bengal government staunchly opposed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probes within the state, stressing that such actions lead to a cascade of federal intrusions, with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) closely trailing the CBI's investigative path. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the state, articulated these concerns before a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta.

Asserting the state's position, Sibal underscored the necessity of "consent" before allowing federal agencies to intervene in state matters, citing the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. He emphasized, "Once you give a foothold to the CBI in a State, soon after the ED also enters for investigating the predicate offense. It has huge ramifications on the polity of this country."

The legal discourse unfolded during the hearing of an original suit initiated by the West Bengal government against the Union of India, alleging the misemployment of the CBI in state affairs. The suit, a pivotal element of the ongoing legal tussle, elucidates West Bengal's revocation of general consent for CBI operations within its boundaries.

"We are dealing with a statute that impacts the federal structure of this country. Consent is necessary before you get entry into the State," Sibal reiterated, elucidating the nuanced legal framework underpinning the state's argument.

The crux of the matter emanates from the withdrawal of general consent for CBI investigations by the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led West Bengal government, effectively rendering CBI probes within the state untenable. This legal stance, a manifestation of the state's autonomy within the federal structure, is emblematic of the broader tug-of-war between states and the center over jurisdictional prerogatives.

The legal skirmish stems from a CBI inquiry initiated in 2021 into election-related violence within the state, a move that precipitated the state government's legal recourse against what it perceives as federal overreach.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer, MIT ADT University