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We know political parties use SC as a forum to settle scores: CJI

Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde

Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde   | Photo Credit: PTI

Bobde’s remark comes during hearing of a plea in the deaths of three BJP workers in West Bengal

Chief Justice S.A. Bobde on Monday orally let know that the court is indeed conscious that political parties use it as a forum to settle scores.

The remark came while hearing a petition filed by senior advocate and BJP leader Gaurav Bhatia for a CBI investigation into the deaths of three BJP workers — Shaktipad Sarkar, Tirlochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar — in West Bengal’s Purulia district. Mr. Bhatia claimed that the “brutal killings”, with the body of Kumar found hanging from a high-tension electric post, exemplified the violence meted out by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) to its political rivals.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for the West Bengal government, countered by questioning Mr. Bhatia’s intentions in filing the petition. Mr. Sibal said the court should first examine the issue whether a member of a political party could really file public interest petitions.

To this, Chief Justice Bobde indicated that this was a phenomenon the court has seen on both sides of the political divide. “We are conscious that Opposition parties are also using the forum of this court. This [argument] goes for both sides,” the CJI replied to Mr. Sibal.

Claiming the case to harbour political motives, Mr. Sibal said a board of five doctors had already certified Kumar’s death as suicide. The police have already filed a closure report. Mr. Bhatia has submitted that the trio were threatened by “TMC goons”. However, the court asked the State government to file a response within four weeks.

A similar interaction had occurred between the Bench and Mr. Sibal in the same case in February 2019. The case was then heard by a Bench led by Justice (now retired) A.K. Sikri.

To a question by Justice Sikri as to “what is happening in West Bengal government”, Mr. Sibal, at the time, had retorted “what is happening in the CBI?”. This was heard at the time the CBI was making attempts to arrest then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for tampering with evidence in connection with the Sarada chit fund scam.

In the past hearings in the case, the court had voiced doubts whether it should enter the realm of facts in criminal cases like this. Mr. Sibal had agued that factual evidence should be best left to the Magistrate’s court concerned. The court had even asked whether the CBI could investigate cases in West Bengal considering the fact that the State government had withdrawn general consent to CBI’s jurisdiction within its territory.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 9:02:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/we-know-political-parties-use-sc-as-a-forum-to-settle-scores-cji/article30666008.ece

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