CBI is operating based on a stay order of the Supreme Court:” The curious case of a seven-year-old apex court order

20 May 2021

CBI is operating based on a stay order of the Supreme Court:” The curious case of a seven-year-old apex court order

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra made an unusual submission during the hearing before the Calcutta High Court in the Narada case, which involved the arrest of four All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders. According to Luthra, who was representing the accused, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is continuing to operate as a result of a seven-year-old interim order issued by the Supreme Court. “The CBI is acting under a Supreme Court stay order. That stay order is still in effect. If the stay order is lifted...” he stated. The argument was made after the CBI's Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that TMC workers and officials used a "orchestrated" effort to prevent the investigative agency from doing its job. Luthra, on the other hand, did not go into great detail about his contribution or clarify which Supreme Court order he was referring to. A closer look indicates that Luthra was referring to an order issued by the Supreme Court more than seven years ago that stayed a Gauhati High Court judgement declaring the CBI unconstitutional. On November 6, 2013, the Gauhati High Court decided that a 1963 Union government resolution establishing the CBI was unconstitutional and that the CBI could only be established by statute. The Central government subsequently went to the Supreme Court, where it won a stay on the High Court ruling following an urgent hearing held at the residence of then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam on a Saturday afternoon. The case was re-listed several times after then, but it has yet to be heard in its entirety.