The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the West Bengal government on an application filed by the CBI for registering cases against police personnel responsible for the March 14, 2007, firing in Nandigram.

A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale issued the notice after Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval said the agency had filed the plea for lifting the stay order, passed by the court in December 2007, on a CBI probe. The investigation was over, but in view of the restraint order, the CBI could not file the charge sheet, he said.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the State, sought time to file the response.

Accordingly, the Bench granted the State two weeks to file its reply affidavit, and directed the matter to be listed thereafter.

Acting on an appeal from the State government, the Court, by the interim order, had restrained the CBI from initiating criminal proceedings in any court against the police personnel. It stayed only one of the directions issued by the Calcutta High Court on November 16, 2007, on registration of cases for the firing, in which 14 people were killed and 126 sustained injuries.

The CBI said one of the grounds raised by West Bengal in its special leave petition was that the Court could not order a CBI probe without the State government's consent.

A Constitution Bench, in its judgment, answered this point and said ordering a CBI probe without the State's consent would neither impinge on the federal structure of the Constitution nor violate the doctrine of separation of powers, and would be valid in law.

In view of this judgment, the CBI said, the SLP might be disposed of early, and the stay on the initiation of criminal proceedings vacated as the matter was of immense importance with far-reaching consequences, affecting the public interest in general.