AP withdraws consent to CBI to conduct raids, probe in state

Amaravati: In a significant decision, the Chandrababu Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh has withdrawn the “general consent” accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct raids and carry out investigations in the state.

The reason to withdraw the consent was recent allegations against the top officials of country’s premier investigation agency, Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N China Rajappa told reporters.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the government hereby withdraws 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,” a latest Government Order (GO) said.

The ‘confidential’ GO, issued by Principal Secretary (Home) A R Anuradha on 8 November, was “leaked” late Thursday night. “We have trust in the CBI but the recent allegations against its top officials have made us withdraw the general consent. Henceforth, the CBI has to obtain the state governments permission for investigating every case,” Rajappa said, claiming that the decision was taken on the advice of lawyers and intellectuals, the deputy chief minister claimed.

The state government’s move is being seen further intensification of confrontation between the Modi government and Naidu, who is making extensive efforts to forge a non-BJP front to take on the saffron party in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Rajappa, however, clarified that the CBI could take up investigation against central government officials without the state’s permission and also said, “We will grant necessary permission whenever the CBI makes a request.”

The BJP termed the Naidu government’s decision “a malafide exercise” to protect acts of corruption, financial embezzlement and other acts of criminality. “The state government has cited recent happenings in the CBI as a lame excuse and a ruse to brazenly save the corrupt and extend political patronage to people and organisations involved in acts of corruption and criminality,” BJP Rajya Sabha member G V L Narasimha Rao said in a statement.

That (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee wholeheartedly supported such a brazen act was not surprising as a new “coalition of the corrupt parties” was taking shape in the country, he remarked. “Exercise of executive power should be for larger public good. When a new political alliance makes shielding the corrupt its primary political agenda, people will severely punish such self-serving political parties,” Rao warned.

The BJP would raise this issue in all political platforms to expose the corrupt deeds of the newly-minted “Grand Corrupt Alliance” (GCA), the MP added. Earlier, Banerjee extended support to Naidu over the issue, saying, “What the Chandrababu Naidu government has done is absolutely right. We will also look into the rules under which it was done. Earlier, we didn’t need to use such provisions but we need to do it now as BJP is using CBI and other agencies to pursue its own political interests and vendetta.”

On 3 August, the AP government issued the GO Ms No. 109 according “general consent” to all members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise the powers and jurisdiction in Andhra Pradesh 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 CBI functions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. Under Section 6 of the Act, a state government “routinely” grants consent to the CBI for exercising its authority in the state and the AP government, too, had issued relevant orders periodically in the last few years.

Ever since he snapped ties with the Narendra Modi-led NDA government in March this year, Naidu had been alleging that the Centre was misusing agencies like the CBI to target political opponents. The recent raids by Income Tax authorities on some business establishments, run by those close to the ruling Telugu Desam Party in the state, have left Naidu red-faced.

Subsequently, he announced that his government would not provide police cover to the IT officials for conducting the raids. Opposition parties decried the move and asserted the state government did not have the authority to bar the CBI. The principal opposition YSR Congress alleged the controversial decision was taken only because the Chief Minister was scared of the CBI.

Chandrababu Naidu should explain why he is blocking the CBI from the state,” YSRC Political Affairs Committee member Ambati Rambabu said. The ban order was issued at a time when the YSRC requested President Ram Nath Kovind and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for a “third party investigation” into the attack on Leader of Opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, he said.

Former MP Undavalli Arun Kumar, a trained lawyer, likened the state government order, barring the CBI, to a “tissue paper” and said it would damage AP’s image. “The state government order is not valid. The CBI can take up probe on the directions of the court. Only in matters related to the state does the agency require the government”s permission,” he said. CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna also questioned the state governments authority in prohibiting the functioning of CBI.