Supreme Court Rules West Bengal’s Suit Against CBI Maintainable

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the suit filed by the West Bengal government against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is maintainable. The state government had challenged the CBI’s continued investigations in West Bengal despite its withdrawal of general consent on November 16, 2018.

A bench comprising Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta stated that the suit will proceed according to the law and be adjudicated on its own merits. The court has fixed the matter for hearing on August 13 for framing of issues.

The apex court had reserved its verdict on the maintainability of the suit on May 8. During the proceedings, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing West Bengal, argued that after the state withdrew its consent, the Centre had no authority to permit the CBI to conduct investigations within the state.

In response, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that the Union government does not exert supervisory control over the CBI’s investigations. This exchange highlighted the legal dispute over the CBI’s jurisdictional authority in states that have withdrawn their general consent for its operations.

The Centre had raised preliminary objections about the maintainability of the lawsuit, contending that there was no cause of action against the Union of India. The West Bengal government had initiated an original suit in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution against the Centre. This article grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes between the Centre and one or more states.

The West Bengal government alleged that despite the state’s withdrawal of general consent for the CBI to investigate cases within its territorial jurisdiction, the agency has continued to file FIRs and conduct investigations. This case has important implications for the balance of power between the Centre and states, as well as the scope of the CBI’s authority.

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