Sandeshkhali violence: SC rejects plea of WB govt challenging Calcutta HC's order of CBI probe

The top court was hearing the state government's plea challenging the Calcutta High Court's April 10 order.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: In a major setback to the West Bengal government, the Supreme Court on Monday in its order refused to entertain its plea challenging Calcutta High Court's order of directing a CBI investigation into the allegations of land grabbing and sexual assault in Sandeshkhali.

"Why is the state trying to protect somebody?," said, a two-judge bench of the top court, led by Justice B R Gavai and K V Vishwanathan, and refused to entertain the WB govt's appeal.

The apex court, however, clarified that the observations made by the Calcutta High Court would not affect the trial court proceedings and future remedies available in the law.

During the course of the hearing on Monday, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, submitted to the Supreme Court that 42 charge sheets were filed by the state police, and women police personnel were deployed over there.

Questioning the Calcutta High Court's order directing the CBI probe into these 42 FIRs, Singhvi said that the issue should not be blown out of proportion for political reasons.

After hearing this, the top court asked him, "You don't act or do anything for months?"

West Bengal government had on April 26 moved the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court's April 10 order directing a thorough CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe into the allegations of land grabbing & sexual assault in Sandeshkhali.

The Calcutta High Court in its order on April 10 had given a strong blow to the Mamata government and had decided to order the CBI to conduct a thorough investigation into the Sandeshkhali case. It had said that the investigation would be monitored by itself.

Supreme Court of India
Sandeshkhali case: Why should WB govt come here to protect interest of private individuals, asks SC

The WB govt in its Special Leave Petition (SLP), a copy accessed by this newspaper, filed in the top court, said that the HC order was erroneous on the face of it, as the larger issue relating to the case was been investigated by the state police. It was not only doubtful but unheard of that an offshoot of the same, as alleged currently should go to a central agency.

"The actions of the State Govt in the present matter have been completely overlooked, while the political voices have been given supremacy in a court proceeding, which not only vitiates the matter at hand but further will lead to a biased investigation. The HC heavily relies on the Report of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and numerous affidavits of alleged victims to pass the directions, whereas the said Report is not conclusive as the State is permitted to file its objections against the Report," the WB govt, said in its SLP. 

"The said directions by the HC, are unwarranted and not sustainable in the eyes of law and should be quashed by the SC," the WB govt said in its appeal filed in the top court.

In its plea, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress said that the HC failed to consider the underlying political motive in the case. The extensive steps taken by the state police in the matter were completely ignored by the HC and the transfer of the probe to the CBI in a cursory manner is a violation of the law.

"The HC Order, which on one hand has called for a report from the CBI on the investigation has further painted the entire state machinery at fault attributing culpability of the State Officials in the land grabbing allegations, which prima facie is unwarranted," the WB govt in its appeal said.

Supreme Court of India
HC directs CBI to take over probe into alleged rapes, land grabbing in Sandeshkhali

On the orders of the Calcutta HC, the central agency had registered three FIRs related to the incidents on January 5. The FIRs pertain to the alleged attack on ED officers by a mob on the complaint by officers, allegations against ED officials levelled by the guard of suspended TMC leader Sheikh and a motu case registered by the Nazat police station about the attack on ED officers. 

In its plea before the apex court, the state government said the high court's order demoralised the entire state machinery, including the police force.

The CBI is already investigating the case of an attack on the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in Sandeshkhali and has registered three FIRs related to incidents on January 5.

Noting that the investigation will be monitored by the court, the high court directed the CBI to file a comprehensive report on the alleged illegal conversion of agricultural land into water bodies for pisciculture after conducting a thorough inspection of revenue records and physical inspection of land alleged to have been converted.

The high court also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate allegations of crimes against women and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali and submit a comprehensive report to it on the next date of hearing.

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