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After Andhra, Bengal bar CBI, FM Jaitley says states not sovereign in corruption cases

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After Andhra, Bengal bar CBI, FM Jaitley says states not sovereign in corruption cases

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Amid the escalating Centre-state clash with Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal joining Chandrababu Naidu government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in withdrawing general consent given to the CBI to investigate any case in the state, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today (Saturday, Nov 17)  hit back saying, “there’s no sovereignty of any state in the matter of corruption. Only those that have a lot to hide take the step of not letting the CBI come to the state.’’

Jaitley, who was in Bhopal to release the BJP’s manifesto for the assembly elections, alleged that the move in the case of Andhra Pradesh was motivated by the fear of what is likely to happen than by any particular case. Alleging that the top leadership of Trinamool Congress was involved in scams, he said the Sharda and Narada scams can’t be wiped out by merely saying we will keep away the CBI.

This, however, was disingenuous: the bar on CBI does not apply to cases already being investigated by it.

Earlier, Mamata Banerjee backed Naidu’s step and, addressing Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers, said, “We will also do the same in our state. We will cross-check the laws. They (the BJP) are giving instructions to agencies from their party offices. From CBI to RBI, they have turned institutions into disasters.”

AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet, said: “Chandrababuji has done the right thing. Modi is misusing the CBI and Income Tax department…”

There was no immediate comment from the CBI but a former officer of the agency, who handed policy matters, said “withdrawal of consent simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them,” according to a report in The Indian Express (IE).

The BJP reacted angrily to Naidu’s move, saying Opposition parties have formed a “grand alliance of most corrupt parties to protect their interests”. Calling it a “clear malafide exercise of power”, BJP MP and its national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told reporters: “A nervous and completely rattled Naidu is trying to save his government.”

The Andhra Pradesh government order comes at a time when Chandrababu Naidu is trying to rally non-BJP parties for an alliance in the run-up to the 2019 state and Lok Sabha elections.

Naidu has accused the BJP of conspiring with Andhra Pradesh Opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy to topple his government by using the CBI and Income Tax department. The I-T department had recently searched premises allegedly linked to TDP MP C M Ramesh.

As reported earlier, AP Home Department GO number 176, issued on November 8 by Principal Secretary A R Anuradha, stated: “In exercise of power conferred by Section 5 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No 25 of 1946), Government hereby withdraws the general consent accorded in GO No 109 Home (SC.A) Department dated August 3, 2018 to all members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise the powers and jurisdiction under the said Act in the State of Andhra Pradesh.’’

The CBI was established under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DPSE) Act. An official of the Home Department l said that while Section 5 of the Act gives powers to the CBI over all areas in the country, Section 6 states that without the consent of the state concerned, it cannot enter that state’s jurisdiction.

However, the Supreme Court and high courts can ask the CBI to probe a crime in a particular state even if the state is not keen to let the agency in. The CBI, in case it considers necessary, can approach the SC and HCs for permission to take up cases or extend their investigation to a state which may wish to declare it to be out-of-bounds for the agency.

Also, the moves by AP and West Bengal governments will not affect ongoing investigations, filing of chargesheets and conduct of trials. Sources in the AP government conceded that the agency could continue to investigate and carry out raids in cases in which it has already obtained consent from the state government.

At present, no major CBI case is being investigated in Andhra Pradesh. The cases of meat exporter Moin Qureshi and businessman Sana Sathish Babu are registered in New Delhi. There is ambiguity, however, on whether the agency can carry out a search in the state in connection with an old case without the consent of the state government.

The Delhi High Court order on October 11, 2018 makes it clear that the agency can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn “general consent” if the case is not registered in that state. The order came on a case of corruption in Chhattisgarh. The court ordered that CBI could probe the case without prior consent of Chhattisgarh government since the case was registered in Delhi.

This is not the first time that a state government has revoked “general consent” for CBI probes, pointed out media reports.

On an earlier occasion, Sikkim had withdrawn the “consent” the CBI is required to take as per Section 6 of the DSPE Act.

In 1998, the Janata Dal-led government of J H Patel in Karnataka had similarly withdrawn general consent to CBI. When the S M Krishna-led Congress government took over the reins of power in 1999, it did not feel the need to revoke Patel’s order. Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, was then Home Minister of Karnataka.

“It wasn’t renewed for eight years. The CBI had to virtually close down its office,” recalled an officer who was with the CBI then, said the IE report. The officer told IE that the agency had to seek permission of the state government for every case and every search, making it difficult to carry out surprise searches, or register a case not agreeable to the state government.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Karnataka High Court disqualifies JD(S) MLA for electoral malpractice

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday disqualified JD(S) MLA D C Gowrishankar Swamy for electoral malpractice, however, the Tumakuru Rural constituency legislator’s suspension was kept in suspension for one month to allow Swamy to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

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JD(S) MLA D C Gowrishankar Swamy

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday disqualified JD(S) MLA D C Gowrishankar Swamy for electoral malpractice, however, the Tumakuru Rural constituency legislator’s suspension was kept in suspension for one month to allow Swamy to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Swamy was disqualified under Section 101 of the The Representation of the People Act by a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court which was delivering a verdict on a petition filed by BJP leader B Suresh Gowda, five years ago, accusing the JD(S) legislator of distributing fake insurance bonds to voters during the 2018 Karnataka Assembly election.

Justice S Sunil Dutt Yadav dictated the orders on Thursday from the Kalaburagi bench of the Karnataka High Court. Justice Yadav had earlier reserved the judgment after completion of arguments on February 17.

Advocate Hemanth Raj, who represented Swamy, sought the suspension of the order as per Section 116(B) of the Act to allow him to file an appeal before the Supreme Court, as elections to the Karnataka Assembly had already been announced.

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Advocate Raj told the court that Swamy was planning to contest the upcoming polls and hence must be given time for an appeal. Gowda’s counsel opposed the request, but was turned down by the High Court, who suspended Swamy’s suspension, allowing the lawmaker time to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The other accused in the case—Balanetraiah, Arehalli Manjunath, Krishnegowda, Renukamma and Sunanda—were also convicted of election malpractices, however, the suspension of the order was only in respect of Swamy and not the other accused.

In his petition, BJP’s B Suresh Gowda, had claimed that Swamy and his accomplices violated Section 123 of The Representation People Act by allegedly distributed fake insurance bonds to 32,000 adults and 16,000 minors, after the Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 27, 2018.

Gowda, who lost the last election to Swamy, had approached the high court with his plea in July 2018.

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Karnataka election: Yediyurappa’s son likely to contest against former CM Siddaramaiah in Varuna

BJP stalwart and former Karnataka chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s son is likely to contest against veteran Congress leader Siddaramaiah from the Varuna seat in Mysuru in upcoming elections in the state.

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Karnataka election

BJP stalwart and former Karnataka chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s son is likely to contest against veteran Congress leader Siddaramaiah from the Varuna seat in Mysuru in upcoming elections in the state.

Speaking at an emergency presser in Bengaluru, held day after the Election Commission announced elections in Karnataka will be held on May 10,  BS Yediyurappa—the spearhead of BJP’s poll campaign in Karnataka—revealed that high-level discussions by the saffron party’s top brass are being held to decide if his son BY Vijayendra, will be fielded from Varuna—a seat currently represented by former chief minister and Congress veteran Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra.

Yediyurappa, who is currently in the eye of the storm over the internal reservation issue among Scheduled Castes (SC) stood by the BJP regime’s decision to implement the AJ Sadashiva panel commission’s recommendations, saying that the reservation quota for Lingayats and other communities was justified and no injustice has been done to Muslims either as they will now get reservation in the Economically Weaker Sections quota.

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Yediyurappa also claimed that the Congress will not get more than 70 seats in the 224-seat Karnataka assembly.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters belonging to the Banjara community attacked the home and office of BS Yediyurappa in Shivamogga area of the state during a massive demonstration against a recent reservation decree by the Basavaraj Bommai government in the state.

Karnataka’s Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP regime has decided to implement the AJ Sadashiva panel commission report on internal reservation among SC’s. Based on the commission’s report, the Bommai government has recommended to the Centre a new breakup of the reservation for Scheduled Castes in education and jobs.

The recommendations suggest that out of the 17 percent reservation for the SC community, 6 percent be earmarked for Scheduled Castes (left), 5.5 percent for Scheduled Castes (right), 4.5 percent for “touchables” and one percent to others.

The Banjara community has demanded the Karnataka government to withdraw the proposed amendments as they would stand to lose out if the recommendations are implemented.

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Congress files breach of privilege complaint against Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Himanta Biswa Sarma retracted his statements inside the state Assembly after the Congress filed a breach of privilege complaint against the Assam Chief Minister on Wednesday.

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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Himanta Biswa Sarma retracted his statements inside the state Assembly after the Congress filed a breach of privilege complaint against the Assam Chief Minister on Wednesday.

A complaint was filed by Congress Legislature Party with the Principal Secretary of Assam Assembly for Sarma’s remarks during a debate on former Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Lok Sabha.

Sarma later withdrew his complaint, however, the Congress has not withdrawn its privilege notice and demanded an apology from the Assam CM.

A complaint letter by signed by over 20 Congress MLAs and addressed to the Principal Secretary said: “Today in the House, the Leader of the House Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has stated that he is aware of the discussion held in the ACLP (Assam Congress Legislature Party) room. Further, he has also stated that some Hon’ble Member of the ACLP has informed him about the decision taken in the CLP meeting held on 28th March, 2023.”

The ACLP said the statement by Sarma was false and hence was bringing a breach of privilege against Leader of the House Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, while urging the principal secretary to take up the notice for “further action” according to the law.

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Commotion erupted in the Assam Assembly on Wednesday morning after the Congress introduced an Adjournment Motion to discuss the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha following his conviction by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case.

Introducing the notice, Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said they want to send a resolution to the President of India requesting her to uphold the Constitution as it is the same for every citizen and the executive must act fairly to protect it.

In his reply to the motion, Himanta Sarma said that expressing opinions on judicial matters is unprecedented and claimed he knew that the ACLP had taken a decision last night to “create noise” in the House.

 Replying to the motion, Mr Sarma said, “It’s unprecedented that we’re expressing opinions on a judicial matter here. I know that a decision was taken by Congress Legislature Party last night to create noise here.

Sarma later parts of his claim that someone from the opposition had informed him of the Congress’ plan the previous night.

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