Priyanka
in Administrative Law
Asked October 09, 2014

State vs Centre Jurisdiction

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I read in the papers about how there was a dispute between State and Central authorities regarding who should be investigating the Burdwan case in WB where a blast took place within a house. The reports suggest that the blast took place accidentally while bomb makers were working at it (not sure about it though)? Now, the state is arguing that it is a "law and order" issue while others see a possibility of raising the "waging war against the state" clause. How does one differentiate between these two things? And why can't the better placed authority investigate the crime irrespective of the nature of crime?

Answer 1

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Shruthee Srinivasan
The Indian Police Service cadres posted at various districts across the country, in addition to the Provincial Service Cadres are in charge of investigating offences, registering FIRs and filing charge-sheets to solve crimes committed within their territorial limits. However, there are certain special institutions set up to investigate and resolve offences of grave nature like terrorism, kidnapping etc. Sometimes, when the state government or its officials are involved in the crime, the government tries to downplay the offence by disallowing the police authorities to investigate it properly; or the police authorities themselves are the perpetrators of the crime and hence impede the investigation process. The most common example is that of encounter killings. To prevent this, the Central Government deploys its own forces that have specifically laid down jurisdictional limits both territorial and punitive in nature. The Central Bureau of Investigation is one such institution, set up under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. Under the Act, the CBI is a primarily investigative authority having concurrent and co-extensive powers, duties with that of the police officers of the Union territories; while the prior consent of the state government is needed if the CBI officials wish to investigate an offence in any state. Further, only those offences notified by the Central Government can be investigated by the CBI. Law and Order is a State subject and the basic jurisdiction to investigate crime lies with State Police. Besides, due to limited resources, CBI would not be able to investigate crimes of all kind. However, the general guidelines followed for CBI investigation are as follows: • Cases which are essentially against Central Govt. employees or concerning affairs of the Central Govt. • Cases in which the financial interests of the Central Government are involved. • Cases relating to the breaches of Central Laws with the enforcement of which the Government of India is mainly concerned. • Big cases of fraud, cheating, embezzlement and the like relating to companies in which large funds are involved and similar other cases when committed by organised gangs or professional criminals having ramifications in several States. Cases having interstate and international ramifications and involving several official agencies where, from all angles, it is considered necessary that a single investigating agency should be in charge of the investigation. Another federal law agency in India is the National Investigation Agency (NIA) established by another statutory act, the National Investigative Agency Act, 2008. The primary objective of NIA is to act as a Central Counter Terrorism Enforcement Agency, and it is empowered to conduct investigation and prosecution of offences specified in the schedule of the NIA Act. The State Government, if so desiring must put in a written request to the Central Government to hand over a particular case to NIA, to the Central Government can suo moto ask the NIA to take over any case under Section 6(5) of the NIA, Act, 2008. The final discretion as to the jurisdiction of NIA rests with the Central Government. SITs (Special Investigation Teams) are specific teams set up for one particular case owing to its national importance or public interest in the matter. The central government decides whether a case deserves an SIT. Famous cases which were solved by SITs were the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Thus, for the CBI the final decision to allow investigation rests with the state government, while the NIA can investigate only if the Central Government sanctions it. The issue of investigating the Burdhwan blast in West Bengal was that of NIA investigation, and hence the Mamata Banerjee government does not have the authority to decide whose jurisdiction would follow. Since terrorism is a national security issue, the Centre has the discretion to impose an NIA investigation under Section 6(5) of the NIA Act, 2008. This is the second time that this provision was invoked without taking the state government’s consent for NIA investigation. However, the WB government has also decided to comply with the orders of the central government and has handed over all the evidence collected to the CID department, NIA Kolkata Branch.
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