The Calcutta High Court in the matter relating to the Ram Navami Violence in West Bengal has directed that the case be transferred to the NIA (National Investigation Agency) saying that the police deliberately did not register any offence under the provisions of the Explosives Substances Act.

A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya held, “… in the cases on hand, we prima facie find that there has been a deliberate attempt on the part of the concerned police not to register any offence under the provisions of the Explosives Substances Act. … we are convinced that no useful purpose would be served by directing the state police to register cases under the Explosives Substances Act or under any other scheduled act as the matter has travelled beyond the said stage and it is a fit case where the entire investigation should be transferred to the National Investigation Agency with a direction to the Central Government to exercise their power under Section 6(5) of the NIA Act.”

The Bench noted that the state police having been directed by the Court in more than 8 orders to transfer the matter to the NIA, in the present incidents have underplayed the true state of affairs which should not be permitted.

Advocate Soumya Majumder appeared for the petitioner while AG S.N. Mookherjee, ASG Asok Kumar Chakraborty, DSGI Billwadal Bhattacharya, and DSGI Dhiraj Trivedi appeared for the State, Union, NIA, and CBI respectively.

In this case, the petitioner Suvendu Adhikari being an MLA and leader of BJP was a convenor of Ram Navami Sobhayatra rally for the year 2023 who along with other petitioners prayed for the issuance of writ of mandamus to direct the CBI to register an FIR into the acts of violence, arson, and communal conflagration at Howrah and Dalkhola on March 30, 2023, on the occasion of Ram Navami and conduct investigation into the same. He further prayed for the direction to the NIA to conduct an investigation into the same.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “We find that under the column list of articles in the seizure list drawn one column has been left blank and all the four seizure reports have been prepared by the very same officer as the handwriting is identical. It is hard to believe that the very same person was able to draw five seizure reports within a short span to time though it is stated by the learned Advocate General had areas where the seizure took place were in close proximity. In any event, we find the seizure report not reflecting the true state of affairs especially considering the nature of offences which have been registered in the various FIRs could not have been as a result of minimum number of weapons and glass bottles which have been seized.”

The Court said that there is a series of doubts on the very seizure report when there was a specific complaint made that bombs were hurled and people were injured with heavy bleeding injuries.

“… the question would be as to whether the state police have purposely failed to register any offence under any of the scheduled enactments fearing that the matter will have to be transferred to the central agency for investigation and further action. This would be a good reason for the court to transfer the investigation to a central agency”, noted the Court.

The Court asserted that despite the offences being committed, no case has been registered under the provisions of such an Act and the same raises a series of doubts as to whether it was a deliberate attempt by the investigating police fighting shy of resorting to the procedure required to be complied with under Section 6(1) of the NIA Act.

“Considering the fact that there was a genuine apprehension in the mind of the public as brought on record by the writ petitioner in WPA No. 151 of 2023 apprehending serious violence during Hanuman Jayanti, the court had to direct central agency to be deployed which our direction was complied with and it appears that the Hanuman Jayanti festival passed off without any serious incidents”, said the Court.

The Court, therefore, directed the police to ensure that all the materials be immediately handed over to the NIA within two weeks who shall commence the investigation in accordance with law.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the pleas and transferred the case to the NIA.

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

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