SLP against HC order directing a CBI probe

The Supreme Court will hear on June 24 a special leave petition the West Bengal government filed against a Calcutta High Court order directing a CBI probe into the death of a driver, allegedly in police custody, on January 18. A vacation Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi gave the direction after Ritesh Agrawal, counsel for West Bengal, made a mention of it and sought early listing.

Counsel Subhashish Bhowmick appeared for caveator Pratim Kumar Singha Ray, on whose petition the High Court ordered the probe on May 13. Kazi Nasiruddin died in the Dhaniakhali police station in Hooghly district after he was picked up for allegedly driving his vehicle without necessary documents.

In its petition, the government said the High Court’s order was based on an assumption that politicians and senior police officers would influence the investigation. And the order was heedless of the impartial probe done by the CID, which had even arrested three of the police personnel allegedly involved in the incident.

It said the High Court proceeded on a wrong presumption that top police officers were also involved in the alleged torture of Nasiruddin, whereas only those of the rank of officer in charge/sub-inspector and constables were allegedly involved. Furthermore, the name of local MLA Asima Patra was not at all mentioned in the first information report registered by the wife of the deceased, and there was no charge whatsoever against her, but the court treated her as if she were the main culprit.

The petition said the transfer of the probe to the CBI was unjustified and had affected the morale of an independent agency like the CID. And the CBI probe was ordered on a writ petition filed by an advocate, who had no locus standi to question the investigation. It sought the quashing of the order and an interim stay on its operation.