• Recently, the Maharashtra government withdrew its general consent 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 case it registers in Maharashtra.



  • Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment
  • Act that makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
  • Recently, a Calcutta High Court order expanded its jurisdiction to investigate the central government employees in West Bengal without seeking specific consent of the state government.
  • For other matters, the CBI needs consent of the state government in whose territorial jurisdiction, the CBI has to conduct an investigation.
  • There are two types of consent for a probe by the CBI. These are: general and specific.
  • When a state gives a general consent to the CBI for probing a case, the agency is not required to seek fresh permission every time it enters that state in connection with investigation or for every case.
  • When a general consent is withdrawn, CBI needs to seek case-wise consent for investigation from the concerned state government. If specific consent is not granted, the CBI officials will not have the power of police personnel when they enter that state.
  • This hurdle impedes seamless investigation by the CBI. A general consent is given to facilitate that seamless investigation in a case of corruption or violence.
  • CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in these two states without getting case-specific consent.
  • Withdrawal of consent simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them
  • The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed. Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed Maharashtra would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
  • Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction Maharashtra the CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to probe people inside the two states.
  • If states withdraw their general consents, the CBI will effectively become a toothless tiger.



  • To ensure due process, the courts, of course, can and should ignore the state government’s reservation and order the agency to investigate a case. However, when the Centre and the state play tug-of-war with the investigation, it diminishes the credibility and authority of the CBI.
  • The onus of ensuring the CBI’s reputation is primarily on the CBI — helped by an independent judiciary — since there will be no incentive for the political executive to ensure that.


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