The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of courts' powers to order CBI probe without the consent of state governments with a rider that this should be used cautiously and sparingly.
In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said such powers have to be exercised cautiously by the apex court and the High Courts.
The Bench, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran, D K Jain, P Sathasivam and J M Panchal, however, said that such powers have to be used sparingly in exceptional and extraordinary circumstances in cases having national and international ramifications.
Otherwise, the CBI will be flooded with such directions in routine cases, the Bench said.
Such powers are vested with the apex court and high courts to ensure protection of fundamental rights of citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution, it said.
The verdict came on a bunch of petitions by the West Bengal government and some others who contended that the CBI can conduct a probe in any state only with prior consent of the concerned government under the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.