NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today refused to transfer the trial in the Madan Tamang murder case of 2010 from Kolkata to Sikkim but ordered that the proceedings should be conducted through video conferencing from Darjeeling.
A bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) general secretary Roshan Giri, who is an accused in the case and had moved the apex court seeking transfer of trial from Kolkata to Sikkim, does not represent all the persons facing trial in the matter.
The police has claimed that Tamang, who was the All India Gorkha League (AIGL) president, was hacked to death in Darjeeling on May 21, 2010 in broad daylight when he was overseeing preparations for a public meeting.
The apex court asked the lower court in Kolkata, where the case is pending, to hold the trial "mainly through video conferencing" for which the appropriate facility should be set up at Kolkata and Darjeeling respectively.
It, however, clarified that if the trial court was of the opinion that physical presence of a particular accused and or a witness was necessary before the Kolkata court, the judge can pass specific order in this regard.
"We are not inclined to direct that the case be transferred out of Kolkata at the instance of the petitioner (Giri) who do not represent all the accused in the trial," the apex court said.
During the course of the hearing, Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, representing the CBI, and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for West Bengal government, told the bench that trial through video conferencing was an "accpetable option" in this case.
Giri's counsel did not object to the submissions, after which the bench said "we consider that these submissions are undoubtely reasonable and practial. We accordingly direct the trial court to hold the trial in the case mainly through video conferencing for which the facility be duly set up in Kolkata and Darjeeling".
The bench further said "if the trial judge would be of the opinion that physical presence of a particular witness or accused is necessary in court before Kolkata, he shall pass such specific order giving sufficient time to that person to be present before the court".
Giri had approached the apex court seeking transfer of trial in the case, claiming that if he was to appear in court at Kolkata to face the murder trial, then there would be a serious law and order situation in Kolkata which might pose a threat to his life.
Giri has been charged with alleged "criminal conspiracy for murder", along with several other GJM leaders, in the murder case of Tamang.
His counsel had earlier told the apex court that in view of the agitation in Darjeeling, it was very likely that a serious law and order situation would arise if he was made to go to Kolkata to face the trial.
The state government's counsel had earlier argued that the court should seek a report from military intelligence on the stir which would make everything clear.
The counsel had claimed that Giri wanted his trial to be shifted to Sikkim as its chief minister has extended support to the GJM's demand.
CBI has indicted the entire top leadership of the GJM for the murder of the AIGL president. Besides Giri, GJM president Bimal Gurung is among the nine top leaders named in the charge sheet.
Gurung, his wife Asha and several senior leaders of the hill outfit had surrendered before a trial court which granted them bail in the murder case.