News Excerpt
The Maharashtra government has withdrawn “general consent” given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe cases in the state. The decision means the central agency will have to get consent from the state government for every new case it registers in Maharashtra.

•    The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government. It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration.
•    It also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.

    The CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
    Later, it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
    The Special Police Establishment, which looked into vigilance cases setup in 1941 was also merged with the CBI.
    The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964).
    The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.

    The Punjab government has also revoked its general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation for probing cases in the state, joining several other states that have carried out similar moves.
    West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are among the states that have already withdrawn their "general consent" to the CBI.

What is general consent?
    The CBI derives its powers to investigate from the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 which grants the CBI power to investigate a case in Delhi, without any permission, since it is part of the Centre. However, in all the other states, the CBI needs the consent of the state to investigate any case relating to that state or having jurisdiction of that state.
    The provision of the Central police not being able to investigate in the states without the consent of the states is part of the Constitution which lays down the law and order as a state subject. The Central police cannot investigate or enter the state without the consent of the case since law and order is a state subject and the Centre cannot intervene in law and order matters. The CBI can only investigate with the consent of the state.
    The CBI can begin a probe under certain circumstances —  if a state government makes a request and the Union government agrees to it, if the Supreme Court or any High Court order the CBI to take up such investigations, or if the state government issues a notification of consent under section 6 of the DSPE Act and the Union government issues notification under section 5 of the DSPE Act for an investigation. The CBI can initiate Suo-moto investigations only in Union Territories, under section 2 of the DSPE Act.

What happens when a state withdraws general consent?
    Once a state withdraws general consent, the CBI has to seek permission before it can register a case against a person or an entity based in that state. So now, the CBI has to seek permission from the Maharashtra government if it has to probe anyone residing in Maharashtra.
    However, there will be no bar on investigation into cases that are already being probed by the CBI. The CBI cannot file any new FIRs in any new cases.For example, if an offence has been committed in Delhi and part of it is in Mumbai and if the state government does not allow the CBI to file a case in Maharashtra, the CBI has an option of registering a case in Delhi and then seeking assistance from the Maharashtra police to carry out the investigation in Maharashtra. However, the CBI will not have power or jurisdiction to probe the case in the state.
    CBI can still investigate in these states if Supreme Court or High Courts directs it.

What types of cases is the CBI involved in at a state level?
    The CBI is divided into three categories when it comes to investigation. The first is the Anti-Corruption Division that investigates cases against public servants under the control of the central government, public servants in public sector undertakings, also under the control of the central government, cases against public servants working under state governments, which have been entrusted to the CBI by the state, and serious departmental irregularities committed by the above mentioned.
    The Economic Offences Division investigates financial crimes, bank frauds, money laundering, illegal money market operations, graft in PSUs and banks.
    The Special Crimes Division handles cases of conventional nature such as offences relating to internal security, espionage, sabotage, narcotics and psychotropic substances, antiquities, murders, dacoities/robberies, and cheating among others.

Why CBI is not as effective as it should be?
     Officers of Indian Police Services (IPS) hold leadership positions in CBI on deputation. They have to return back to own cadre after completion of term. This puts question mark on their ability to remain politically neutral.
     Dependence on Home Ministry for fund and staff further compromises its ability to investigate independently.
     Dependence on state government’s consent to investigate within that state.
     Because of Politicization and corruption, CBI has been called as “caged parrot” by none other than the Supreme Court of India.

Reforms Suggested
     Second Administrative Reform Commission has suggested that CBI should be made a statutory body under a separate law. This will improve its powers and independence.
     It should be given powers to investigate cases against All India Services officers and Central Government officers, irrespective of the state they are serving.
     CBI should have a separate cadre of officers even for leadership positions.
     Modern investigation tools and training
     Increased independence by making its expenses charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India.

The decision will increase work for both the CBI and the state government. Every time the CBI traps some central government employee taking a bribe, it will need to seek approval from the Maharashtra government before registering a case.Similarly, the Maharashtra government department too will be burdened with approval requests on a case-by-case basis.
The CBI has, however, recently started taking recourse in a Calcutta High Court judgment. The HC, in its order in the Ramesh Chandra Singh and another vs CBI, observed that “the court is of the view that the central government/CBI’s power to investigate and prosecute its own officials cannot be in any way impeded or interfered by the state even if the offenses were committed within the territory of the state.”

National Investigation Agency, Central Vigilance Commission, Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2014, Lokpal and the Lokayukt