The Delhi High Court on Monday ruled that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) need not seek the State’s consent for investigation under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DSPE Act), except when the case is registered in such State.
The Bench comprising Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel explained, “Provisions of the DSPE Act is to facilitate the CBI in carrying out its investigations. It would, therefore, be counter-intuitive if the task of the CBI is frustrated beyond the point of practicality. If in every such case the investigation is stalled because of the absence of sanction of a particular State other than the State where the case is registered, then the scheme of Sections 5 and 6 of the DSPE Act and their purpose would be defeated.”
While Section 5 extends the powers and jurisdiction of special police establishment to other areas, Section 6 says that Section 5 shall not be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State without the consent of the Government of that State.
The issue before the court concerned the need for prior sanction having to be taken by the CBI from the Chhattisgarh State government in terms of Section 6 of the Act prior to investigating an offence in the State.
Two corruption cases had been registered by the CBI against Mr. B. L. Agarwal, the then Health Secretary and present Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Government of Chhattisgarh. CBI had now alleged that Mr. Agarwal, a 1988 batch IAS officer, had tried to “settle” the ongoing probe against him.
To this end, it was alleged that the officer had approached one Bhagwan Singh, a resident of Noida, who took him to one Syed Burhanuddin—the man who claimed that he would help him settle the case in his favour. Burhanuddin aka OP Singh aka OP Sharma had demanded Rs. 1.5 crore as illegal gratification for his services, the CBI had alleged.
The officer’s brother-in-law, Mr. Anand Agarwal, who had now approached the court, had allegedly played a key role in the perpetuation of the offence, and a huge amount of cash was recovered from his possession. He had pointed out that while the case was registered in Delhi, investigation was being carried out in Raipur without prior sanction from the State of Chhattisgarh.
Anand had challenged a notification issued by the Centre in April, 2001, extending the powers and jurisdiction of the members of the DSPE to the whole of Chhattisgarh for investigation of offences specified in the Schedule to the said Notification. This, the notification says, was done with the consent of the Government of Chhattisgarh.
Anand, however, asserted that the Government of Chhattisgarh had never granted any such consent and that it grants consent only on a case to case basis ever since its formation in 2000. He had established this by placing reliance on responses received to applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
He had father contended that on a collective reading of Sections 5 and 6 DSPE Act, it is untenable that any investigation can be carried on in any State outside Delhi without the consent of the concerned State Government being obtained under Section 6 of the Act.
He had, therefore, now prayed for a declaration that all actions, inquiries and investigation undertaken by the CBI against him were without jurisdiction and void ab initio. He had also sought quashing of the order passed by the Special Judge CBI Cases, New Delhi taking cognisance of the offence in the absence of a valid sanction under Section 6 of the Act.
The State of Chhattisgarh had also supported Anand, contending that at no point in time was any consent given by it under the DSPE Act. CBI had asserted that as long as the offence is committed in Delhi, and the case was validly registered by it in Delhi, it did not matter if the investigation pursuant to the said offence is carried on in other States without the prior sanction of those States under Section 6.
The court, however, opined that consent from the State would not be necessary if the case is registered in some other State, explaining, “While consent of the State Government might be necessary for registration of a case in that particular State, to say that the CBI must seek the prior consent of every State where the investigation is thereafter conducted would make the scheme of Sections 5 and 6 DSPE Act unworkable.”
It then opined that merely because further acts pursuant to the criminal conspiracy were performed by the co-accused in a place outside Delhi, in this case Raipur, there would be no necessity for the CBI to seek prior sanction of the State of Chhattisgarh under Section 6 of the Act to take further steps to investigate that case in Raipur or other places in Chhattisgarh. The court therefore dismissed the petition.