Punjab has become the ninth state to withdraw general consent extended to the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to conduct investigations in the state, joining the ranks of other opposition-ruled states which have effectively shut their gates to the agency.
The move, which makes it necessary for the central agency to get state authorities’ permission to conduct investigations in the state, comes days after Jharkhand issued similar orders.
In a notification issued late Monday night, the Amarinder Singh government said it was withdrawing general consent and “prior consent of the Government of Punjab” would be required in the future, on a “case-to-case basis” for any future investigation.
“…the Government of Punjab hereby withdraws the general consent accorded to the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment, anytime herein before. In view of revocation of all previous general consents issued earlier, prior consent of the Government of Punjab shall be required, hereinafter, on a case-to-case basis for investigation of any offence or class of offences…” the notification said.
Earlier, several other opposition-ruled states, including Kerala, Bengal, Chhattisgarh and, more recently, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, had also withdrawn general consent, alleging that the BJP-led government at the centre was misusing the agency to harass political opponents.
Tripura and Mizoram also have revoked general consent in the past.
Bengal withdrew general consent in 2018, following the steps of the erstwhile Chandrababu Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Naidu had withdrawn general consent in November 2018, months after pulling out of the BJP-led NDA, accusing the centre of undermining the credibility of the agency for its own gains.
Andhra Pradesh, however, overturned the move after the Jaganmohan Reddy government came to power last year.
Opposition state governments in recent months have found themselves at odds with the central government and the CBI, which has delved into cases – especially ones that have seen political scrutiny – being probed by local law enforcement.
Maharashtra’s move last month came hours after the CBI filed a case to investigate the TV ratings scam on the basis of a complaint filed in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier this year, the investigation in the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput was handed over to the central agency as well.