NEW DELHI: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung today claimed in the Supreme Court that the West Bengal Police had lodged false cases against its members to pressurise them and suppress their movement for a separate Gorkhaland state.
However, the state police maintained that Gurung was absconding, not cooperating in the probe of cases lodged against him and playing "blatant politics".
A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the court cannot go into the matter politically and has to look into the legal aspects of the case.
"We cannot go into it politically. We have to see legal issues," the bench observed, adding "we cannot say anything on the issue which he (Gurung) has raised politically".
Senior counsel A M Singhvi, representing the police, told the bench that Gurung was facing trial in 23 cases and several other criminal cases were also registered against him.
He claimed that various serious incidents had taken place under Gurung's leadership and a 26-year-old police official was also killed during the recent Gorkhaland agitation.
"His defence is that these cases are false and sham. There are so many cases. 53 FIRs cannot be sham," he said.
Senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for Gurung, countered the submissions and said 104 FIRs have been lodged against Gurung and other GJM members by the West Bengal Police and the state government had made him a fugitive.
"He fears for his life. The West Bengal government has made him a fugitive," he claimed and added that Gurung was seeking transfer of probe in these cases to other independent agencies like the CBI or the NIA.
Referring to the application by police seeking vacation of the apex court's November 20 order restraining it from taking any coercive step against Gurung, he claimed that incorrect statements have been made in the plea.
"Gurung was accorded cabinet status and was provided police secutiry. Can a person having a cabinet status do all this violence and abscond," Patwalia said, adding that the GJM had opposed the state government's move to make Bengali language mandatory in schools in West Bengal.
He alleged that false cases were lodged without there being any complainants against Gurung and other GJM members to "pressurise and threaten" them and this was done to "quell the movement."
Patwalia also argued that arms were planted during the raids conducted by the police at Gurung's residence and false case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was also registered.
At the end of hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the Centre would follow the order passed by the apex court in the matter.
The court has posted the case for hearing on November 30.
The GJM leader had earlier claimed in the apex court that he was being politically persecuted by state government and sought a probe by the NIA or CBI in the killings of several Gorkhaland activists during the recent agitation for a separate state.
West Bengal Police had told the court that its order restraining it from taking any coercive steps against Gurung should be vacated, as the morale of the entire force was down since there were several cases of serious nature against him.
The GJM central committee had recently suspended Gurung for six months and appointed Binay Tamang as the party's new president.
Gurung has approached the top court seeking independent probe into the alleged killings of Gorkhaland supporters during the recent protests.