SC rejects plea seeking CBI probe into alleged massacre of tribals in Dantewada in 2009
The apex court said that filing of charge sheets at the conclusion of the probe into the various FIRs referred to in the matter would indicate that the alleged massacre was at the end of the Naxalites
Published: 14th July 2022 09:30 PM | Last Updated: 14th July 2022 09:30 PM | A+A A-
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed with an "exemplary" cost of Rs five lakh a plea seeking a CBI probe into the purported massacre of some tribals, allegedly by security forces, in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district in 2009.
The apex court, while noting that the power to transfer an investigation must be used "sparingly" and only "in exceptional circumstances", said that filing of charge sheets at the conclusion of the probe into the various FIRs referred to in the matter would indicate that the alleged massacre was at the end of the Naxalites.
It said the cost shall be paid by social activist Himanshu Kumar, who was the petitioner number one in the plea, within four weeks failing which it would be open for the authority concerned to take appropriate steps in accordance with law for recovery of the requisite amount.
The top court said it is "really taken by surprise" that the counsel appearing for the petitioners was absolutely oblivious of the fact that all the FIRs were probed by the concerned investigating agencies and charge sheets were filed in different courts of the state for the offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including that of murder and dacoity.
"In the overall view of the matter, we have reached the conclusion that no case, worth the name, has been made out by the writ petitioners for any further investigation much less through an independent agency to be appointed by this court," a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and J B Pardiwala said.
The bench delivered its verdict on the plea, filed by Kumar and others, relating to the alleged massacre that took place on September 17, 2009, and October 1, 2009, in the villages of Gachhanpalli, Gompad, and Belpocha in the Dantewada district.
The apex court noted in its 94-page verdict that it was the case of the petitioners that security forces, including the Chhattisgarh Police, the Special Police Officers, and the paramilitary forces, were allegedly responsible for the massacre.
It noted that Kumar claims to be running an NGO for the welfare and development of tribals residing in the Bastar region of the state.
The bench also noted that the other petitioners in the matter were the kith and kin of the victims of the alleged massacre.
"The materials collected in the form of the charge sheets substantiate the case put up by the respondents that the villagers were attacked and killed by the Naxalites. There is not an iota of material figuring in the investigation on the basis of which even a finger can be pointed towards the members of the police force," the bench said.
"The writ petition accordingly fails and is hereby rejected with exemplary costs of Rs five lakh. The requisite amount towards the costs shall be paid by petitioner no.1 viz. Himanshu Kumar," the bench said.
It also dealt with an application filed by the Centre which had urged the court to hold the petitioners guilty of levelling false charges and of giving false and fabricated evidence in the court with an intention to procure conviction against the personnel of security forces and to screen off the actual offenders of Left Wing (Naxal) terrorism.
The Centre, in its application, had also sought appropriate action against the petitioners and others responsible for the alleged acts of perjury.
The bench, while referring to section 211 of the IPC which relates to a false charge of offence made with intent to injure, noted that the first information reports lodged by the petitioners at different police stations were probed and the investigating agency had reached the conclusion that police force had no role to play, rather Naxals were responsible for the massacre.
"Prima facie, it could be said that false information was given by the first informants to the police as regards the alleged massacre by the police force," it said.
"Thus, we leave it to the state of Chhattisgarh/CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to take appropriate steps in accordance with law as discussed above in reference to the assertions made in the interim application. We clarify that it shall not be limited only to the offence under section 211 of the IPC. A case of the criminal conspiracy or any other offence under the IPC may also surface," the apex court said.
The bench said it may not be understood of having expressed any final opinion on such action/proceedings.
"We leave it to the better discretion of the state of Chhattisgarh/CBI to act accordingly keeping in mind the seriousness of the entire issue," it said while disposing of the interlocutory application filed by the Centre.
The bench said if it goes by the tenor of the writ petition, it gives an impression that proper investigation is not being done and therefore, the same should be handed over to the CBI.
"Unfortunately, neither the senior counsel appearing for the writ petitioners nor any of the writ petitioners, more particularly, the writ petitioner no.1 (Kumar), the protagonist behind the filing of the present writ petition, running an NGO, has any idea about the charge sheets and the materials collected in the course of the investigation," it said.
Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, appearing for the Chhattisgarh government, opposed the petition and highlighted the manner in which the state police had carried out the investigation of these incidents and also the details regarding the registration of FIRs.
Sodhi had also argued that there was no merit in the petition and the same may be rejected with exemplary costs.