The Calcutta High Court has ordered the transfer of investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with regard to the incident wherein Union Minister Nisith Pramanik’s convoy was attacked during a visit to his constituency in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar District on February 25 this year.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rai Chattopadhyay directed, “… in the above circumstances of the case and considering the fact that the attack is on the convoy of Union Minister of State and the allegation is in respect of larger conspiracy to cause bodily harm to him, we are of the view that to ensure fair, unbiased and neutral investigation, it is necessary that the investigation is carried out by an independent agency. … the investigation in Sahebganj P.S. Case Nos. 62/23 dated 26th of February, 2023 and 63/23 dated 27th of February, 2023 is transferred to the CBI forthwith.”

The Bench observed that the nexus between the police and those who are directly or indirectly involved in the incident and who can influence the investigation with the police becomes a relevant ground to transfer the investigation to the independent agency.

Advocate Soumya Majumder appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Advocate General S.N. Mookherjee, ASG Ashok Kumar Chakraborty, and Advocate Dhiraj Trivedi appeared on behalf of the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner, who was an elected Member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and also the Leader of Opposition filed a public interest petition in respect of the incident of attack on the convoy of the Minister of State (HMoS), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India when he was visiting his constituency. It was alleged that two persons in a public gathering instigated the workers belonging to the ruling party of the State to prevent the movement of the Union Minister or workers belonging to the principal political opposition party.

The workers belonging to the ruling party in the State started pelting stones and hurling bombs at the Union Minister’s convoy and also attacked the workers of the principal political opposition party in the State accompanying the Minister and the allegation was that the police personnel present on the spot took no step to stop the perpetrators. As per the allegation made in the petition, bombs were hurled at the car of the Union Minister which resulted in the breaking of the car windows as well as certain shrapnel damaging the body of the car which could have resulted in fatalities.

The High Court the above regard asserted, “… the report itself supports the petitioner’s plea that the State police authorities are not likely to conduct the fair investigation in the matter. … The incident is admitted and is of serious nature relating to the attack on car and convoy of HMoS Union of India. Therefore, non-registration of complaint promptly supports the apprehension in the mind of the petitioner. That apart, the complaint mentions the names of as many as 30 offenders, but no prompt action against them is reflected.”

The Court noted that there is an allegation of throwing bombs and causing damage to the body of the car by certain shrapnel and the photo thereof has also been enclosed with the petition, but there is no proper investigation in this direction.

“The allegations are against the workers of the ruling party in the State, therefore, the possibility that State Police may not fairly carry out the investigation cannot be denied, especially when the other side are the workers of principal political opposition party in the State. … A perusal of the case diaries also reveals that investigation is not heading in the right direction”, said the Court”, said the Court.

The Court further noted that different yardsticks have been applied by the State Police to take action against the workers of two different political parties.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition and ordered a CBI probe into this matter.

Cause Title- Suvendu Adhikari v. The State of West Bengal and Ors.

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