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Centre has no control over CBI, AG tells SC on Bengal govt suit

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the CBI is a statutorily maintained body and the Centre cannot interfere with it regarding the manner in which the probe agency investigates a case.

The AG, representing the Centre, argued before a bench headed by L. Nageswara Rao that the original suit filed by the West Bengal government against CBI registering cases in the state, despite the state government revoking its general consent, was not maintainable.

He added that the Union of India has nothing to do with the registration of criminal cases under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act or under Section 6 of the Act.

The AG insisted that a suit cannot be filed where the CBI is not the party, but the Centre is a party. He emphasised that the Centre has no control over the CBI in matters relating to the registration of FIRs, adding that the CBI is an autonomous body.

The West Bengal government has moved the top court against a Calcutta High Court order directing the CBI to probe the cases of murder and crimes against women during the post-poll violence in the state, which was witnessed after the declaration of Assembly election results earlier this year.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, representing the West Bengal government, contended before the bench that the state government's suit should be allowed, adding that the other side has made a complete mockery of the rules.

The state government had sought directions to declare the registration of cases by the defendant after withdrawal of the general consent for CBI investigation as unconstitutional. The AG submitted that the Centre had neither registered a single case, nor it had the jurisdiction to register a case.

The West Bengal government, in its original civil suit under Article 131 of the Constitution, contended that the CBI has been proceeding with investigations and filing FIRs without its approval, as mandated under the statute.

The AG reiterated that the CBI is an autonomous body and the Union of India has not registered any case or investigating any case, adding that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has been given power under the CVC Act to exercise superintendence over CBI in relation to investigation of offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"But even the CVC cannot ask the CBI to investigate or dispose of a case in a particular mannera. DSPE and its officers are autonomous and even the CVC cannot interfere with their power of investigation," the AG added.

After hearing the submissions, the top court adjourned the matter for two weeks.