The Supreme Court on Friday declined to stay the Calcutta High Court order transferring the probe in cases connected with Ram Navami violence to the National Investigation Agency.
Counsel for West Bengal submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud that the NIA Act cannot be invoked in ordinary cases of violence unless the case is in connection with the security of the country or sovereignty.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the state, said there cannot be NIA just because there might have been a bomb and argued that the high court passed the order on the assumption that bombs and explosives were used warranting the invocation of the Explosives Act, which is a scheduled offense under the NIA Act.
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He said all this was done in a PIL, by an active member of the BJP. The West Bengal government took objection to the high court entertaining a PIL filed by Leader of Opposition Suvendhu Adhikari.
The Calcutta High Court by order dated April 27, 2023, observed violation of Section 6 of the NIA Act. The high court noted that during the violence which occurred during Ram Navami, crude bombs were used to attack the procession.
It was claimed that despite there being allegations about bombs, the West Bengal Police did not register an offense under Explosive Substances Act, in order to prevent NIA investigation. The high court transferred the investigations to NIA, which has already registered 6 FIRs in relation to the Ram Navami violence.
The West Bengal government moved the apex court against this order. However, the bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and K.V. Viswanathan, declined to grant any stay or relief to the West Bengal government and scheduled the matter for hearing after summer vacation.
For Adhikari (on caveat), senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and P. S. Patwalia appeared along with advocate Bansuri Swaraj. The NIA was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The counsel claimed that the West Bengal government was not transferring files to NIA on the ground that they have filed a plea before the Supreme Court.
The state’s plea said: “The Hon’ble High Court by directing the petitioner state police to transfer all the FIRs, documents, material seized, CCTV Footage, etc. immediately to NIA who shall proceed hereon with the investigation, has acted in contravention to settled principles of the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a catena of judgments.”
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