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Supreme Court Upholds West Bengal's Challenge Against CBI Jurisdiction

In a significant ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court declared that the lawsuit filed by the West Bengal government challenging the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) authority within the state remains valid under the law. The bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta affirmed that the case, which contests the CBI’s investigations despite the […]

Supreme Court Upholds West Bengal's Challenge Against CBI Jurisdiction
Supreme Court Upholds West Bengal's Challenge Against CBI Jurisdiction

In a significant ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court declared that the lawsuit filed by the West Bengal government challenging the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) authority within the state remains valid under the law. The bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta affirmed that the case, which contests the CBI’s investigations despite the state revoking its consent in 2018, will proceed based on its own merits.

The legal dispute arose after West Bengal objected to the CBI’s jurisdiction to conduct investigations within its borders following the withdrawal of general consent by the state government in November 2018. The matter was under deliberation by the Supreme Court since May 8, when it reserved its verdict on whether the state’s lawsuit against the Centre was maintainable.

Representing West Bengal, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that once the state withdrew its consent, the Centre had no authority to permit CBI investigations within its territory. Conversely, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, contended that the Union government does not exert supervisory control over CBI operations, raising initial objections to the lawsuit’s validity against the Union of India.

The West Bengal government initiated the legal action under Article 131 of the Constitution, which grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in disputes between the Centre and one or more states. The lawsuit alleges that despite the withdrawal of consent, the CBI continued to register FIRs and conduct investigations within the state’s jurisdiction.

This ruling marks a crucial development in the ongoing legal tussle between the West Bengal government and the Centre over the limits of CBI’s investigative powers within the state. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the maintainability of the suit signifies a pivotal moment in defining the balance of authority between state governments and federal investigative agencies under Indian law.

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Supreme CourtTDGThe Daily GuardianWest Bengal