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Calcutta High Court will decide whether probe attack on ED officers by Sheikh’s people be probed by State Police or CBI

The Calcutta High Court has instructed the West Bengal police department to make sure of correct investigation against the arrested Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shahjahan Sheikh.

A Bench comprising of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya also stated that they would observe and decide as to whether State Police or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should probe into the alleged attack on officers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) by Sheikh’s people.

The Chief Justice said that they can permit arresting the man but the investigations in the said FIRs (of attack on ED Officers) continued to be stayed.

The Chief Justice asked Advocate General (AG) Kishore Datta how can they keep a person in custody when there will be no probe? 

The AG responded that the State will not proceed in the case till the matter is decided. 

The Court said to Stay hands for the time being. 

The Bench was earlier told by ED that the State Police arrested Sheikh in the case. Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dhiraj Trivedi, pointed out that the probe in this case was already stayed by the same Bench last month. 

Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dhiraj Trivedi told the court that the State Police was very much aware of this Court’s order staying investigations in the said FIR yet the chose to arrest him under the said FIR.

The COurt addd that the court now he has been sent to police custody and the State is not probing anything and like this it will pass 15 days after which he will be sent to judicial custody and the CBI would not get his custody,” Trivedi told the Court. 

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju weighed in, saying that the State Police purposely arrested Sheikh in the said FIR and this shows ‘malafide’ on its part.

“Milords, the State could have arrested him in more than 40 FIRs pending against him. But they chose to arrest him in these two FIRs. The intention is only to defeat the FIRs and nothing else. We need his exclusive custody. All orders passed by this Court are defeated while arresting him and now he is merrily enjoying the custody and he is basking in the sun and have nothing to do. Thus, there is no purpose and this arrest is a farce. If there is no investigation during this custody period for 15 days then there will be nothing coming out,” Raju argued. 

AG Datta, however, tried to justify the State Police’s action to arrest Sheikh in the said FIR saying that there was some ‘misunderstanding’ on the part of the local police.  

“Milords, it would be wrong understanding of your orders, on our part. Lordships had clarified earlier that stay is only on constitution of the SIT. We proceeded on the understanding that since the stay is only on forming of SIT, we can proceed with our probe,” the AG submitted. 

However, ASG Raju criticised the submission, saying, 

“This is q highly unfair submission on the part of the AG. Your Lordships had orally clarified last time that the stay is only on probe not arrest. Yet Mr. AG is making such a submission.”

The AG went on to say that the probe cannot be transferred to the CBI, as the State Police is competent to investigate the case. He added that there is no allegation by the ED that the State Police had any role in the attack on its officers. 

“Though it isn’t mandatory for them, the ED could have informed the local police about the raids. We could have given them protection. Whatever happened there, it wasn’t done by the local police,” Datta submitted.  

He pointed out that the Supreme Court has time and again held that the powers to order transfer to another agency must be exercised cautiously by the High Courts and only in exceptional circumstances.  

“There is no exceptional circumstance Milords. There is no accusation against involvement of local police. No higher police official is involved in the offence. Thus, no case for a transfer is made out,” the AG submitted.

Countering the submissions, DSG Trivedi said that the local police has been ‘biased’ right from the very beginning of the incident. He pointed out that even before registering the complaint by the ED, the local police lodged a suo motu case against the ED sleuths, accusing them of outraging modesty of women, assaulting women and children etc. 

“The local police has been only trying to manipulate the case so that the entire FIR is defeated. Its actions from the beginning are tarnished. Thus, the probe must be transferred to the CBI,” he submitted.  

After hearing the submissions, the Court reserved its judgment in the appeals. 

On January 5 this year, around 200 local people are said to have surrounded and gheraoed ED officers who had arrived to raid Sheikh residence at Akunjipara in connection with the ration scam case.

ED officers were injured during the ensuing clash. In the wake of this incident, the Governor of West Bengal CV Ananda Bose later called for the arrest of Sheikh.

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