Today: Jun 25, 2024

CBI has jurisdiction to investigate offences committed within erstwhile State of J&K: HC

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Thursday held that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is vested with jurisdiction to investigate offences committed within the territorial jurisdiction of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir prior to abolition of its autonomy and bifurcation into two centrally-administered units.

Scores of permanent residents of the former State had challenged the jurisdiction of India’s premier investigating agency for launching cases against them contending “no consent in terms of Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act) has been accorded by the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir for the investigation of the instant cases”.

Case to case consent was required by the CBI from erstwhile State for initiation of inquiry, they pleaded.

Justice Sanjay Dhar disposed of the writ petitions and said the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir has accorded general consent under Section 6 of the DSPE Act for exercise of jurisdiction by the CBI to investigate the offences.

The consent, according to his judgment, is purportedly mentioned in the consent letter dated 07.05.1958 read with letter dated 18.12.1963 and that these communications have not been withdrawn by a competent authority of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Thus, CBI has jurisdiction to investigate the offences mentioned in the aforesaid two consent letters read with notification dated 01.04.1964 and order dated 01.04.1964,” read the judgment.

Justice Dhar said that he did not find any reason “to depart from the consistent view taken by this court that the erstwhile State of J&K has accorded a general consent to the exercise of jurisdiction of CBI to investigate certain classes of offences in the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir and that the contention that CBI lacks jurisdiction to investigate these classes of offences in the erstwhile State of J&K, is without any merit”.

He directed the registries of both the wings of the High Court to delink all these petitions and list them separately before the roster Bench for consideration on other legal grounds raised in the petitions on individual basis.

Since the stay of proceedings before the trial court was granted primarily on the ground of jurisdiction of the CBI to investigate the impugned FIRs, the stay of proceedings before the trial court have been vacated by the judgment.

The matter has been listed before the Registrar Judicial, Jammu and Srinagar on 20th of this month for fixing of dates in individual cases.

The counsels for the petitioners had argued that members of the CBI are not vested with jurisdiction to investigate offences under Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act, as a specialized agency, viz., Vigilance Organization has been created for investigation of offences under the said Act.

The court held that the argument is without any merit. It said “once an order under Section 5 of the DSPE Act is issued extending the powers of CBI for investigation of any offences or classes of offences to a State, a member of the CBI discharging functions of a Police Officer in that State, is deemed to be a member of the Police Force of that area and he is vested with powers, functions and privileges etc. of a Police Officer belonging to that Police Force”.

Thus, once a member of the CBI is vested with jurisdiction to investigate offences under the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, he would exercise the same powers and privileges as are available to an officer of Vigilance Organization, the court said further.

According to the petitioners, the CBI before undertaking investigation of the impugned FIRs, was bound to obtain consent of the State Government in individual cases in terms of Section 6 of the DSPE Act and because the same has not been done, as such, the CBI lacks inherent jurisdiction to investigate the impugned FIRs and to file challan against the petitioners.

They also contended that notifications/orders in terms of Sections 3, 5 and 6 of DSPE Act are required to be issued in the same order in which these provisions have been incorporated in the Act, meaning thereby that in the first instance there has to be a notification under Section 3 which should be followed by an order under Section 5 and finally there has to be consent of the State Government in terms of Section 6 of the DSPE Act.

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