Thursday, December 1, 2022

Supreme Court to hear appeal of Mamata Banerjee’s poll agent on Friday

The matter was listed before a bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aniruddha Bose, which said, “We’ll take up the matter on Friday because the High Court is taking up this matter today”.

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ILNS: The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned till Friday, the hearing on an appeal filed by the state of West Bengal, regarding Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s election agent S.K. Supian, challenging the Calcutta High Court order, which had revived 14-year-old criminal cases against Supian and others registered during the Nandigram violence.

The matter was listed before a bench comprising Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aniruddha Bose, which said, “We’ll take up the matter on Friday because the High Court is taking up this matter today.”

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for West Bengal, submitted, “The High Court passed an order, reversing the policy decision.” 

The Bench asked, “What is the other order?”

Singhvi replied, “There were political agitations in Nandigram. The government decided to quash criminal complaints and that was challenged in PIL.”

He said, “It was passed by saying that you implead the parties later but first, we would quash the withdrawal of prosecution. The result is, after the quashing of HC, all those persons were sought to be arrested. This is against all principles of 320.”

The Bench questioned, “Why don’t you go to HC and argue there? Your case also why don’t you go to HC?”

Singhvi replied, “Your Lordship may allow me to go to High Court but arrest should not happen. We’ll go back to High Court.”

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the Respondent/Dipak Mishra. He said every thing that Singhvi has said is wrong. The state, PP are in collusion.

The Court asked, Whether there is a collusion or not it has to be decided by the High Court. Is it permissible in law if against a person criminal proceedings are initiated again without hearing him?

Rohatgi said the accused has no right to be heard. There is a judgment.

Justice Surya Kant said, “Yes, but this Court has allowed the accused to be heard. Can we ignore the order of the Court?”

Justice Ramana said, “Mr Rohatgi, I am saying that the matter before Calcutta HC is listed today. I will take up this matter on Friday.” 

The Supreme Court bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Krishna Murari by its order dated March 26, 2021 stayed the High Court order against Supian. The order by the HC was passed on a PIL filed by Bengal BJP leader Dipak Misra. 

“These Special Leave Petitions are against a common order dated March 5, 2021 passed by a Division Bench of Calcutta High Court, in two writ petitions filed as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) being WPA(P) No 68 of 2021 (Nilanjan Adhikary vs The State of West Bengal and Others) and WPA(P) No 67 of 2021 (Dipak Mishra vs The State of West Bengal and Others), whereby an order dated February 10, 2020, passed by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, discharging the petitioner from Criminal Case No 368 of 2007 and other similar orders passed on diverse dates, discharging various persons accused from criminal cases against them, have been stayed and the concerned Courts have been directed to take note of the orders of stay and to deal with the Criminal Cases accordingly,” the Apex Court had noted in its order. 

During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel had submitted the PILs were initiated by persons belonging to a political party for oblique reasons. The PILs should not, therefore, have been entertained, he argued. 

The Apex Court had further noted in its order that, “While it is true that the Court is required to examine whether a litigation is really in public interest or to advance some other interest in the garb of public interest, at the same time, a Public Interest Litigation cannot be thrown out only because the petitioner belongs to a rival political party. Persons with political affiliations are, as much entitled to file a public interest litigation as any other person. Whether the litigation is bona fide or not is a different issue which has to be examined by the Court on a case to case basis, having regard to the nature of the complaint before it.”

The Court had also noted the submission made by the Petitioners Counsel that as per Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor in charge of a case might, with the consent of the Court, at any time before the judgment is pronounced, withdraw from the prosecution of any person, either generally, or in respect of any one or more of the offences for which he is tried.   

The Court had noted the order of discharge was passed without hearing the petitioner. Accordingly, the Court had directed the High Court to take up the writ petitions and finally decide the same within a week or two. The Court had asked all the parties to raise the objection before the High Court. The Court further noted “that since the impugned order was passed by the High Court without hearing the petitioner, the same is stayed, insofar as it pertains to the petitioner viz. SK Siouan, for a period of two weeks or till date or until further orders of the Division Bench of the High Court, whichever, is earlier.” 

Thereafter, the Court had list the matter before the regular bench. On 06.04.2021, the matter came up before the bench of Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant & Justice Aniruddha Bose was hearing the case whereby Sr Advocate Siddharth Luthra & Sr Adv Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for the State & Sr Adv Mukul Rohatagi for the respondent Dipak Misra. 

The Supreme Court had, on that day, adjourned the matter upon the request of Advocate Jayant Mohan, since Rohatgi was unavailable.

In the present matter, the petitioner was alleged to be a part of unlawful assembly in mass protests against the improper land acquisition measures  undertaken by the Government of West Bengal during 2007-2009 to create a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nandigram. 

“The petitioner was not impleaded as a necessary party originally before passing the order. Supian only became aware of the cases upon the knowledge of initiation of process to issue arrest warrants upon reinstitution of criminal cases,” the appeal said.

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