Centre appeals against HC ruling declaring CBI illegitimate

The union government today moved the Supreme Court for a stay on the rather startling ruling by the Guwahati High Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's premier investigating agency, is "unconstitutional" and does not have the powers to investigate crimes.

CBIA division bench of the high court comprising Justices I A Ansari and Indira Shah on Thursday struck down the resolution through which the CBI was set up, and held all its actions as unconstitutional.

The judgment came on a writ petition filed by one Navendra Kumar challenging an order by a single judge of the high court in 2007 on the resolution through which CBI was set up.

Minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy, who is also a special minister in the Prime Minister's Office, met attorney general G E Vahanvati on Friday to fathom the legalities of the high court judgment, and both agreed that an appeal should be filed in the Supreme Court.

Thereupon the Union of India today filed a petition seeking a quick hearing against the high court order. The hearing is likely to take place today itself at the residence of Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam.

The union government has called the order "erroneous" as the 1963 resolution under which the CBI was set up didn't mention the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act of 1946 and only draws power from it.

The government will reportedly argue that the Supreme Court has already upheld the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act, and so a high court cannot now call a body set up under it as illegal. Legal experts say the apex court, in several judgments, has validated the CBI.

Under the high court ruling, the CBI stands to lose all its policing powers, including filing charges against suspects or make arrests; it can only conduct "inquiries".

Narayanswamy held a series of meetings on Friday with CBI director Ranjit Sinha and law officials after the High Court order, after which the content of the petition was finalised.

Meanwhile it is "business as usual'' for the CBI and the order will have no bearing on the cases being handled by the agency, director Sinha said.

The appeal against the high court ruling became urgent as citing the order, some of the accused in the 2G spectrum scam, including former telecom minister A Raja, on Friday sought a stay on the trial against them in a special CBI court.

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who has been named by the CBI in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, too has asked a Delhi court to declare as "illegal" the charge-sheets filed against him.