The High Court of Calcutta has said that the Central Government must decide whether National Investigation Agency (NIA) should be investigating the three bomb blasts that took place this year in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas and Malda districts which killed a person while 6 got injured.
A bench comprising of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj said that the that offence was made out under NIA Act but the officers-in-charge of the concerned police stations did not forward reports to the State government as required under the NIA Act.
The Court noted that “We find that though in these cases scheduled offence under NIA Act has been committed but provisions of Section 6 have not been complied and Officer-in-charge of the concerned police station has not forwarded the report to the State Government ‘forthwith’ in terms of Section 6(1) of the NIA Act.”
The first incident took place on March 29 in South 24 Parganas district, where a man was killed after crude bombs purportedly built and stockpiled within his home exploded, destroying the single-storey structure.
The second incident that took place on March 30 in Malda district,where a nine-year-old girl was injured after an explosion took place in a field as a result of bombs being stored there.
In the third incident, on April 24,five children were injured in Malda district after they mistook a homemade bomb lying under a litchi tree for a ball and attempted to play with it.
The three writ petitions were placed before the Court by two persons seeking handing over of the investigation of the blasts to the NIA.
The petitions were filed by advocate Anindya Sundar Das of Calcutta High Court who said that, the first two cases were scheduled offences under the NIA Act and a report must be forwarded to the State Government so that it can refer it to the Centre for deciding if the case should be handed over to the NIA.
He contended that due procedure was not followed by the police and requested the Court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution and transfer the investigation to the NIA.
In the third petition filed by one Arijit Majumdar, it was said that a large number of bombs were recovered from the area but the police wrongly registered the offence under Explosives Act of 1884 instead of Explosive Substances Act of 1908.
Since the offence was committed under the 1908 Act, which is a scheduled offence under the NIA Act, it was submitted that the same should be investigated by the NIA.
The State did not dispute that the offences committed in the petitions were scheduled offences under the NIA Act, but argued that every scheduled offence under the NIA Act need not be investigated by the central agency. It referred to the preamble of the NIA Act and stated that only under the following four circumstances, scheduled offences can be referred for investigation:
- Offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India;
- Offences affecting the security of State;
- Offences affecting friendly relations with foreign States; and
- Offences under Acts enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.
It also did not dispute that the procedure as prescribed under the Act was not followed and the report as required by Section 6(1) was not forwarded but argued that if this procedure was not followed, Central government could have exercised suo motu power under Section 6(5) of the Act.