The Supreme Court has pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation for refusing to share with West Bengal its report on the probe conducted into the March 14, 2007 police firing in Nandigram by treating the State government as an accused.
A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik is hearing an appeal filed by the government against a Calcutta High Court order entrusting the investigation to the CBI and directing payment of compensation to the victims.
The Supreme Court earlier stayed only one of the directions issued by the High Court on November 16, 2007 on registration of cases for the firing, in which 14 people died and 126 others were suffered.
The Bench is also hearing an application from the CBI seeking a direction for it to proceed against the police personnel responsible for the firing as the probe has been completed.
During the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval made it clear that it would not be possible for the CBI to furnish the probe report to the government. “The report has been submitted to the High Court in a sealed cover. Once we supply a copy of the report to the State, we may have to give copies to the respondent-police officials also.”
Justice Raveendran pointed out that there was no condition in the High Court order that the enquiry report should not be made available to the government. “What prevents you [CBI] from giving the report to the State government?”
“Instrumentalities of the State”
When Mr. Raval said “most of the accused were senior police officers,” Justice Raveendran observed: “The police are the instrumentalities of the State government. Are you in a position to say that the same Inspector-General/police officers who were in Nandigram at the time of the firing are still there?”
Mr. Raval maintained that as the conduct of the police officers and their involvement had been probed, it was not possible to furnish a copy of the report to the government. Justice Raveendran said: “It does not mean you can deny the State's right to have the report.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for West Bengal, said that without examining the report, the State would not be in a position to file a response to the CBI application. As the CBI was directly under the Centre, the investigation should be entrusted to any other independent agency, he said.
Counsel said the State handed over records of the telephone conversations of those who had instigated the violence. He said Maoists and several other groups were prepared with firearms and hatched a conspiracy to create a difficult situation, which resulted in police firing. Some of them even threw bombs at the police and an officer had his hands blown up. Mr. Venugopal wanted to know whether the CBI investigated who had instigated the violence.
The Bench, while directing the State to pay compensation to all affected persons as directed by the High Court, listed the matter for further hearing on December 2.