Setback for West Bengal Govt, SC Rejects Plea in Sandeshkhali Row

Sandeshkhali Row

 The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by the West Bengal government challenging the Calcutta High Court’s order directing a CBI investigation into allegations of crimes against women and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali.

A bench of Justices B. R. Gavai and K. V. Viswanathan questioned senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing the West Bengal government, about the state’s lack of action for months.

Singhvi argued that the Calcutta High Court’s extensive directions to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could be restricted to two FIRs related to an attack on Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in Sandeshkhali. He contended that the high court’s order extended into unrelated areas, including a ration scam with 43 FIRs.

Court’s Question

The bench inquired about the status of the FIRs and arrests, asking, “Who are the accused? When were the arrests made?” It emphasized, “Why should the state be interested in protecting someone?” On the previous hearing, the state counsel requested an adjournment after the apex court posed this specific question.

The Supreme Court dismissed the state’s plea and clarified that the high court’s observations should not influence the CBI’s investigation. “Thank you. Dismissed,” the bench said.

The court was hearing the West Bengal government’s challenge to the Calcutta High Court’s April 10 order. During the hearing on April 29, the Supreme Court questioned why the state should act to “protect the interest” of private individuals. The state argued that the high court’s order demoralized the state machinery, including the police force, and usurped the powers of the state police to investigate crimes in Sandeshkhali.

CBI Investigation

The CBI is already investigating the attack on ED officials in Sandeshkhali, having registered three FIRs related to the January 5 incident. The high court directed the CBI to file a comprehensive report on the alleged illegal conversion of agricultural land into water bodies for pisciculture, and to investigate allegations of crimes against women and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali. The ED officials were attacked by a mob while searching the premises of suspended Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shahjahan Sheikh in connection with a ration distribution scam case.

Petitioner-lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal had submitted several complaints, including affidavits detailing alleged sexual atrocities, land grabbing, and other crimes. The high court decided to transfer the investigation to the CBI, noting that the central agency was already handling the ED attack case.

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