Higher Courts Can Order CBI Probe Without Consulting Government

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court and high courts are empowered to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into criminal cases without the concurrence of the union or state governments, the apex court ruled Wednesday.

The significant judgement was given by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

The bench, which also included Justices D.K. Jain, R.V. Raveendran, P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal, held that various courts of the higher judiciary need not seek the concurrence of the union or the state governments to order a CBI probe.

The bench, however, sounded a word of caution for various courts of the higher judiciary. Before ordering a probe, the courts must satisfy themselves of the need for the probe to uphold fundamental rights and the dignity of the rule of law.

The bench had reserved its verdict on the issue of the higher judiciary's power on Dec 11 after hearing arguments from various sides.

The question of whether higher courts are empowered to order a CBI probe was referred to the constitution bench by erstwhile Justice B.N. Agrawal on March 22, 2007.

Justice Agrawal had referred the question while dealing with an appeal by the West Bengal government against a Calcutta High Court ruling of April 7, 2001.

The ruling had ordered a CBI probe into the alleged killing of 11 Trinamool Congress workers at Gabreta.

It had been contended by the West Bengal government that if courts order a CBI probe, it amounts to a violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. Section 6 of the act provided that the CBI cannot investigate a cognisable offence alleged to have taken place in a state without the prior consent of the state concerned, the government counsel had said.


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