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Calcutta High Court: CBI’s Authority to Investigate the Matter Within the Ambit of Railway Areas Remains Unrestrained by the Withdrawal of State Govt’s Consent

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Case: Anup Majee vs Union of India and others [WPA No. 10457 of 2020]

The Calcutta High Court on 3rd February 2021 ruled that the extension of powers of the CBI to investigate in respect of Railway areas falls outside the purview of the State’s authority to grant or withdraw consent.

Facts of the case:

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated an investigation in the FIR registered in connection with suspected offenses of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by public servants, and criminal misconduct by public servants by dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriating the property entrusted to them, or any property under their control as public servants or allowing other persons to do so, wherein the Petitioner was named as an accused. 

Further, the FIR specified the place of occurrence of the offense as leasehold area of ECL under Kunustoria, Kajora area, District West Burdwan, corresponding Railway Sidings, and other places (in the State of West Bengal).

The matter before the court was concerned with the question as to whether the withdrawal of consent by the State of West Bengal denuded the CBI of any authority to conduct an investigation within the territory of West Bengal, including Railway areas?

Arguments advanced:

The Petitioner contended that the consent given by the State of West Bengal under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 on August 2, 1989, was withdrawn vide a subsequent Notification dated November 16, 2018.

Therefore, it was argued that since there’s a withdrawal of such consent by the State of West Bengal, the CBI had no authority to register FIR and conduct an investigation under the same within the State of West Bengal.

Court’s observations:

The Hon’ble court to defining Railway area as contemplated in the 1946 Act (DSPEA), borrowed the definition of “Railway” given in Section 2 (31) of The Railways Act, 1989(as 1946 Act doesn’t define “Railway area”) and held, “All conceivable areas covered by the Railways, including rails, sidings, yards or branches used for the purposes of or in connection with Railway, fall within the periphery of Railway area.”

Further, the Court held that the extension of powers and jurisdiction of members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to a State in the absence of any specific exclusion of such areas in the order conferring such powers would automatically include Railway areas falling therein. 

Also, since the consent of the State Government under Section 6, operates only in respect of a State and not Railway areas, which are specifically excluded in the section, the grant or withdrawal of consent by the State Government is irrelevant in respect of Railway areas. Further, the Court said, “…For obvious reasons, Railway areas were excluded, since such areas spread over the whole of the country and are interconnected. Therefore, it would be absurd if each and every State asserts rights over the Railway areas to impose their own fiat regarding such areas, which would adversely affect the continuity of services and operation of the Railways.”

Thus, the Court laid down that a composite reading of Sections 5 and 6 of the 1946 Act, makes it evident that the grant or withdrawal of consent by the State Government, though valid for other territories in the State, does not have any repercussion on Railway areas. Although, it might lead to certain practical difficulties for CBI to investigate in the Railway areas falling within the State of West Bengal while being unable to conduct such investigation in the other areas of the State. 


The Single bench of Hon’ble Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya, disposed of the plea in the following manner:

  • The CBI is authorized to continue its investigations in respect of the said FIR in whatsoever manner within the “Railway areas” situated in West Bengal.
  • Although the CBI is not authorized to conduct physical raids and/or active investigation into other areas of West Bengal than the Railway areas, it can summon and interrogate witnesses residing in West Bengal, even in places other than Railway areas, for the very purpose of such investigation;
  • In the event, CBI deems it necessary for such investigation, about the FIR impugned herein, the CBI will be at liberty to approach the State authorities of West Bengal for the latter’s co-operation in the matter and necessary permission to hold joint raids and/or investigation.
  • However, such action, in the view of areas beyond the Railways, shall be conducted by the CBI only subject to specific consent being granted by appropriate authorities of the State of West Bengal.

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