Observing that political overtones cannot be brushed aside, Justice Kausik Chanda of the Calcutta High Court on Monday stayed all further proceedings against Suvendu Adhikari, Leader of Opposition in West Bengal, and his brother Soumendu Adhikari in the alleged tarpaulin theft case. The Court will conduct further hearing four weeks after Puja vacation. Earlier, the High Court had stayed the investigation in three other cases lodged against him.

Passing the interim order, Justice Chanda observed that political overtones of this criminal case cannot be brushed aside. The present criminal proceeding is one of the cases launched against Suvendu Adhikari soon after the change of his political affiliation.

Adhikari had joined BJP from Trinamool Congress in December, 2020. He was a minister in the previous government led by Mamta Banerjee. Six different criminal cases were lodged against him following his shift to BJP.

While granting interim relief to the petitioners, Justice Chanda also took note of an earlier order of another bench of the High Court wherein it had said, "Prima facie there appears to be an attempt at implicating and victimizing him (Suvendu Adhikari) in criminal cases and mala fides, malice and collateral purpose in registering the FIRs against the petitioner and his associates."

The Court ordered that there will be a stay on all further proceedings pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Contai, Purba Medinipur district, till six weeks after the ensuing Puja vacation. The Court ordered that the state may file its affidavit within two weeks after the Puja vacation. It said the petitioners may file affidavits in reply within a week thereafter.

The petition of Suvendu, a former Chairman of Contai Municipality, prays for quashing of proceedings against him and his co-petitioner brother in connection with the case in Contai police station.

PS Patwalia, Senior Advocate appearing for Suvendu Adhikari submitted that the petitioners had been implicated in this case since they had changed their political affiliation from the ruling Trinamool Congress to the opposition BJP. At least six criminal cases have been lodged against him at various police stations in the state since he changed his political affiliation.

Senior Advocate Kishore Datta, representing the state, submitted that since the complaint discloses cognizable offences, it is mandatory for the police to lodge an FIR.

With PTI inputs