As Gehlot withdraws ‘consent’ for CBI investigation, BJP says CM is ‘hiding something’


PTI, Jul 21, 2020, 12:00 PM IST

The Ashok Gehlot government has withdrawn its “general consent” to the CBI to conduct investigations in Rajasthan, and the central agency will now need its prior permission on a case-by-case basis, prompting the BJP to question the intention behind the move.

The opposition party, which had demanded a CBI inquiry into the phone tapping row that has erupted during the ongoing political crisis in the state, said Chief Minister Gehlot’s action shows he is trying to hide something.

The state government issued a notification which states that prior approval from the Government of Rajasthan will have to be taken on a case-by-case basis to investigate any crime falling under Section 3 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.

Section 3 of the DSPE Act states that the “Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify the offenses or classes of offenses which are to be investigated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment.”

According to the Rajasthan’s Home Department officials, the ”general consent” of the state government will no longer be valid in the offenses under DSPE Act. Additional Chief Secretary Home Rohit Kumar Singh said, “Its administrative provisions were already there, it was notified yesterday.”

Officials said that in June 1990 too the then Rajasthan government had refused to give such ”general consent” to the Centre.

The BJP has slammed the Rajasthan government’s move, saying there is an “indirect emergency” in the state. “The way the state government misused the SOG and the ACB, now it was afraid of CBI action… It clearly shows that there is something fishy,” BJP state president Satish Poonia told reporters.

He alleged Gehlot is using SOG and ACB to threaten independent candidates and smaller parties. “It is clear that the chief minister has taken the decision to hide something,” he said.

The ruling Congress is facing a rebellion by party leader Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. A probe by the state police into horse-trading charges based on purported tapped conversation of some leaders has turned the situation murkier.

The Congress had demanded the arrest of BJP leader and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma after two purported audio clips surfaced relating to the alleged conspiracy to topple the Ashok Gehlot led Congress government.

The SOG had registered an FIR on the basis of the complaint lodged by Congress Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi who had submitted audio clips as evidence.

However, the FIR does not identify Gajendra Singh referred in the clip as Union minister Shekhawat, a senior BJP leader from Rajasthan. Shekhawat has denied that he figures in the clip and said he is open to a probe.

The BJP has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged tapping of phones and what it called “saga of illegalities and concocted lies”. “These are serious questions that we want to ask the Congress high command and Gehlot. Was phone tapping done?

Assuming that you’ve tapped phones, was the standard operating procedure followed? Did the Congress government in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered?” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had said.

A similar action related to CBI had been taken by West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh governments in 2018, alleging that the Centre was misusing the agency to harass opponents.

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