Doubts over political use of CBI, says Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh over withdrawal of consentUpdated: Oct 23, 2020, 00:11 IST
There were doubts over the “political use” of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday in justification of the state government’s decision to withdraw general consent given to CBI to investigate in Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, on Wednesday withdrew the general consent given to CBI to probe cases in the state, making it mandatory for the agency to seek the state government’s permission before taking up cases within its borders.
The state government suspected that the probe in the alleged television rating points (TRP) manipulation scam would be transferred to CBI after a case was lodged in Uttar Pradesh, Deshmukh said. “Although the CBI is a professional investigation agency, doubts are being raised over its use for political purposes,” Deshmukh said. “Section 6 of the Delhi Special Establishments Act empowers the state, making its consent mandatory for handing over any case to the premier investigating agency. By an order issued in 1989, Maharashtra had given general consent allowing the Central agency to take over any case. We have withdrawn the same by issuing the order yesterday,” Deshmukh added, at a press conference in Mumbai.
Deshmukh was seconded by Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut, who said the CBI and other Central agencies were used to defame non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states and the decision was prompted as patience was wearing out due to instances in the past few months.
“Such decisions have to be taken to protect the rights of the state when agencies like CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Commission for Women (NCW), which have some authority to investigate, are used to create trouble or defame governments of opposition parties (non-BJP ruled). Such a time came in West Bengal, it was done in Andhra Pradesh, and some more states have also done it,” Raut told reporters separately on Thursday.
Deshmukh said the state government suspected the possibility of the TRP case’s transfer to CBI for political reasons. “There is a growing murmur among the public about the political use of the premier Central agency of late. The honourable Supreme Court, too, had in the past termed CBI a ‘caged parrot’. We have seen how a few sensitive cases registered in Maharashtra were handed over to Central agencies. We anticipated a similar attempt in the TRP scam and hence the order has been issued. Mumbai police is investigating the TRP case very efficiently and has made a few arrests too. After the CBI registered an FIR in the TRP scam in Uttar Pradesh, there was a possibility of our probe being handed over to the Central agency,” he said.
Deshmukh pointed out that a few states like Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim, too, have issued such orders, making their consent mandatory before handing over any probe to the CBI.
Raut added that on a few instances in the past few months when Mumbai Police started any probe, an FIR was lodged by some state and the CBI enters Maharashtra. “Patience has run out. The moment the police take up a case, and reach a conclusion, the Central agency files an FIR in other state, takes over the case and enters Maharashtra. How long can this go on? Maharashtra has its pride,” Raut said.
The BJP has, however, said that by withdrawing the consent, the Maharashtra government is vitiating the relations between Centre and State. “The order is nothing but an attempt of creating doubts in the minds of the people and will also hurt state’s relations with Centre. State home minister’s statement is baseless as TRP case is unlikely to go to the CBI unless somebody moves court. Unlike Sushant Singh Rajput death case, the investigation in TRP case by Mumbai Police is at an advanced stage, arrests have been made and in this backdrop, the case is unlikely to be transferred to the CBI,” said BJP leader Atul Bhatkhalkar.
He also added that spoiling its relations with the Centre may hurt the prospects of getting Central assistance for flood-hit farmers.
In the recent past, the MVA government in Maharashtra and the BJP government at the Centre were involved in a tussle over investigations in sensitive cases. Immediately after it took over, the MVA planned to set up a special investigation team to probe the Bhima-Koregaon case, which was being probed by the Maharashtra police during the BJP rule in the state. However, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case in February this year.
Before the TRP case, the Mumbai Police were locked in a jurisdictional tussle with the Centre and CBI over the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who was found hanging at his Mumbai apartment on June 14. The case was handed over to CBI in August this year.