Left-ruled Kerala on Wednesday decided to withdraw the general consent accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe cases, joining a list of non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states including Maharashtra which have effected a similar move.
The Opposition Congress and the BJP slammed the action, saying the government was afraid of the central agency probe.
Kerala, ruled by the Communist Party of India Marxist-led Left Democratic Front, became the fifth state after Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to withdraw the general consent accorded to the CBI to exercise its powers under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, an official statement here said.
The lone Left-ruled state in the country took the key decision at a time when the CBI was probing various alleged irregularities in its ambitious Life Mission project, a housing initiative for the poor.
"We have decided to withdraw the general consent given to the CBI, through the notifications under the Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946," it said.
"The Central agency would be entrusted with the investigation of cases, in necessary situations, only with the special permission of the state government," it added.
The consent is akin to a blanket nod for the agency to probe scheduled offences specified in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSE) Act, 1946.
The governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh recently withdrew the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The probe agency also lacks a "general consent" from Mizoram.
Unlike the National Investigation Agency, which has countrywide jurisdiction to take over any case related to terrorism, the CBI requires the consent of the state government concerned under Section 6 of the DPSE Act, the law that governs the agency's functioning.
On October 13, the Kerala high court had stayed for two months the CBI probe into alleged irregularities, including of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, in Life Mission, a state housing project envisaging total housing for the homeless.
The opposition has alleged there was corruption in selection of the contractor by Red Crescent, an international humanitarian organisation, and thatSwapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, had admitted before an NIA court to having received Rs 1 crore as commission from the project.
The government came under fire from the Congress and BJP over the move.
Lashing out at the state government, BJP state president K Surendran claimed the decision not to allow the CBI in Kerala was taken as the investigation into the gold smuggling case and Life Mission scam reached the chief minister and his family.
By blocking the central agency's investigation, the government was trying to save itself, he told reporters in Kozhikode.
Terming the move as "anti-democratic", he said the central agency would continue to investigate the cases that need to be probed by them and it would prove the case by overcoming all the resistance raised by the CPI-M and the government.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran reiterated that Vijayan was "afraid" of the central agency.