The Calcutta High Court has directed probe by the Special Investigation Team in a case involving attack on Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers saying that there are flaws in the investigation conducted by the State Police.

The Court was deciding a writ petition filed by the ED against the State praying for transfer of investigation from the State Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A Single Bench of Justice Jay Sengupta said, “Although the corresponding GD entry for the said FIR No. 7 was allegedly preceded by the GD entry for the suo moto FIR, yet the FIR No.7 of 2024 was registered as the first. If the E.D. personnel could not enter the said premises, the question of stealing or molesting women would not arise. The issue of quashing of proceeding is pending before a Co-ordinate Bench. However, the very registration of such an FIR, that too before the prior GD entry is registered as an FIR, casts a serious shadow of doubt on the impartiality of the police officers of the Nazat Police Station. This is good enough reason to exclude at least the personnel of the Nazat Police Station or its outpost from conducting the investigating of the instant case. … There are several other flaws in the investigation conducted by the State police.”

The Bench noted that despite the injury report of one of the victims and his statement that he was hit by an accused with a stone on his head, no charge under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was added and that other applicable serious provisions of law like dacoity, grievous hurt by dangerous means were also omitted from the FIR.

ASGI S.V. Raju appeared for the ED while Advocate General Kishore Dutta appeared for the State.

Brief Facts -

The ED was investigating a money laundering case involving the infamous Public Distribution System Scam and a Cabinet Minister of the State was arrested in it. Money trail was found in respect of two other significant political figures of the State owing allegiance to the ruling political party and they were Shankar Adhya and Sajahan Sheikh. On January 5, 2024, ED held raids at the residence of Sajahan in order to search and seize relevant documents but the said suspect did not open the door despite being contacted over phone. Later, it was found that he was in all probability inside his residence or very near and he called up his followers, the local miscreants to come and frustrate the raid. Some people even came in buses and about 1000-3000 people gathered being armed with sticks, bricks, and stones.

The aforesaid persons attacked the raiding party members and the accompanying personnel of CRPF and they did not even spare media persons present. Three ED officials were seriously injured and hospitalised and a false FIR was registered. There were interpolations in the FIR in adding a charge of outraging modesty of females and the proceeding in respect of the first FIR was stayed by the High Court. Subsequently, only a charge of Section 325 IPC was added and other charges were deliberately omitted. Belongings of ED officers like laptops, wallets, and other documents were also looted away but the police did not arrest anyone from the spot. The prime accused was a very influential political leader a local mafia.

The High Court in view of the above facts observed, “… there was no serious effort made to enter into the residence of the accused in question. Till now, no permission has been sought to break open the door. … Even the suo moto FIR did not contain relevant provisions of law and presented a rather watered-down version. It is indeed quite astounding, to say the least, that the State police are having no information on the whereabouts of a prominent political leader of the locality like the accused Sajahan Sheikh and are unable to arrest him. … On the other hand, it is also no less surprising that the E.D. who is now praying for investigation of the instant case of mob violence by the CBI, had not prayed for transfer of investigation of cases involving the predicate offences from the State police to the CBI.”

The Court said that the thrust of the petitioner that only the CBI should investigate the case and be able to arrest the suspect must be juxtaposed with the inability of the ED itself, another powerful central agency accompanied by the CRPF personnel, to search and seize, far less arrest the suspect. It however said that the involvement of the CBI personnel in the investigation of the cases would be an imperative considering the ineptitude of the local police to handle the matter in view of the allegation of bias levelled by the petitioner, a premiere investigating agency.

“A pan-India organisation like the CBI would also be able to deal better with inter-State or inter-country measure if it becomes necessary to undertake the same. One cannot rule out the possibility of any accused illegally crossing over to a neighbouring country. … The State has a Constitutional obligation to uphold the Rule of Law and not permit any form of anarchy or mobocracy”, it held.

The Court, therefore, observed that in order to unearth the truth and to apprehend the miscreants responsible, a concerted effort is required from both the Central and the State agencies and thus, to instil confidence in the people and to have a fair and effective investigation, for the present, a SIT consisting of personnel from both CBI and State police need to investigate the alleged offences.

Accordingly, the High Court issued necessary directions and listed the matter on February 12, 2024.

Cause Title- Enforcement Directorate v. The State of West Bengal & Ors.


Petitioners: DSGI Dhiraj Trivedi, Advocates Debjani Ray, Samrat Goswami, and Sohini Dey.

Respondents: SSC Amitesh Banerjee, Advocates Ipsita Banerjee, Debangsu Dinda, Amajit De, and Biswarup Mukherjee.

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