AMARAVATI: In a controversial move, the Chandrababu Naidu government has withdrawn the 'general consent' accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) --- which is usually given as a matter of course by all the States -- to exercise its powers and jurisdiction in Andhra Pradesh.
A Government Order to this effect, marked confidential, was issued by Home Secretary AR Anuradha on November 8 and the same was leaked late Thursday night.
Andhra Pradesh Government has withdrawn the ‘General Consent’ given to the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers & jurisdiction in the state. In the absence of this permission, CBI can't interfere with any case that takes place within the limits of AP pic.twitter.com/bUgvB3hgBD
— ANI (@ANI) November 16, 2018
"In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, Government hereby withdraw the general consent accorded (in GO Ms 109) to all the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise the powers and jurisdiction under the said Act in the State of Andhra Pradesh," reads the GO. The Delhi Special Police Establishment is nothing but the CBI.
The State government had issued GO Ms 109 on August 3 giving consent to all members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to work in AP as and when the need arises against officials of the Central government, Central government undertakings and private persons for investigating offences under various laws, including the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The latest GO, a copy of which was copied to the CBI Director, was issued "in view of the infighting in the CBI", and as it was felt that "its interference in the State is unnecessary" official sources claimed.
The government move, coming as it does in the wake of the recent attempt on the life of Opposition leader and YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy, and income tax raids on several TDP leaders, has immediately kicked up a row with the opposition parties accusing Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of resorting to this step only to protect himself and his leaders.
Deputy Home Minister Chinarajappa, however, denied the allegations and claimed the decision was taken as the CBI was dancing to the tunes of the Centre.
"Apart from using the CBI to target political opponents, the Centre has damaged the reputation of the CBI. The internal bickering in the CBI has exposed it," he said and denied that the move was aimed at pre-empting CBI raids on TDP leaders.
The TDP has been accusing the Centre of trying to intimidate its leaders by using central agencies ever since the party walked out of the NDA.
YSR Congress spokesman Ambati Rambabu said the GO raises questions since it was issued even as the YSR Congress has moved the High Court, and submitted representations to the President, and the Home Minister demanding an investigation by a third party into the attempt on the life of Jagan at the Vizag airport.
Accusing the Chief Minister of being the mastermind behind the attack on Jagan, he said it was the reason why Naidu was shivering at the very thought of the CBI.
The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act came into force in November 1946 and under Section 6 of the Act, each State through an executive order gives the CBI permission to investigate cases within its geographical boundaries.
A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, told TNIE that the CBI can investigate a case only on the request of the State government or under the direction of the High Court or the Supreme Court or if the case at hand is connected to the Central government or Central undertakings located in any State.
“It could be said that its jurisdiction is pan India. The State cannot prevent or bar the CBI from entering the State. It is unconstitutional. They are trying to tamper with the basic principles enshrined in the Constitution. This is a foolish GO.” He opined that the move is more symbolic in nature than anything else. “It is a show of defiance… by taking advantage of the current turmoil in the CBI,” he observed.
Former chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao, who has joined the BJP recently, termed it unsustainable.
“This general consent by States to the CBI is given as a matter of routine. Till now, nobody has bothered about it. Now that the AP government has made an issue of it, the Centre may amend the Delhi Police Act. They can issue an ordinance and say no notification is required by the States,” he said and stressed that more importantly, this GO is of no use.
“The CBI can book a case in Delhi and arrest people here! Their jurisdiction is all India! Take, for example, there is some scam in Vizag Port Trust. They can book a case in Delhi, investigate here and take action. The government is being too clever by half. I can understand if it wants to bar the CBI from entering State government offices but if you say CBI cannot investigate in Central government offices, it is ridiculous.”