SC dismisses WB govt petition against Calcutta HC order directing NIA to probe Ram Navami violence
The bench had noted that the Centre government’s notification exercising its suo moto powers to empower the National Investigation Agency had not been challenged by the West Bengal government
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the special leave petition filed by the West Bengal government against the Calcutta High Court order directing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the Ram Navami Festival clashes in the state.
A bench, headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, noted that the notification issued by the Centre government in exercise of its suo moto power (on its own) empowering the NIA to probe into the violence has not been challenged by the state government.
"....in the absence of a challenge to the Central government notification, we are not entertaining the Special Leave Petition," the bench recorded in its order.
The state government argued that smoke and tear gas grenades used by the West Bengal police were projected as explosives.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the police, said that the impugned High Court order demoralises the police officials and diminishes its credibility.
On the other hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the NIA, submitted that the clashes involved use of bombs. He argued that the Centre government can direct the anti-terror probe agency to investigate cases involving explosives as the same is a scheduled offence specified in the NIA Act, 2008.
On April 27, while ordering the NIA probe in the matter, the Calcutta High Court’s division bench of Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya had observed that it is beyond the ability of the state police to find those who were responsible for the clashes or who instigated it and hence a probe by a central agency was necessary.
The NIA took up the probe in the matter following the order passed by the division bench, which had also directed the state police to hand over all case-related documents to the NIA within the next two weeks.
Earlier, the same division bench questioned the failure of the intelligence wing of the state police in getting information about stones being accumulated on the rooftops. Pockets in certain districts of Howrah and Hooghly districts in West Bengal turned violent over processions on Ram Navami festival which continued for a couple of days.
On June 19, the NIA had approached the high court’s single- judge bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha accusing West Bengal Police of non-cooperation in handing over crucial documents related to the Ram Navami clashes in the state this year.
In its petition, the NIA had alleged that since the state police is not extending cooperation and delaying in the process of submission of all related documents, the central agency is unable to accelerate the pace of their investigation.
The state government had contended that it has already challenged the high court order before the Supreme Court and the hearing in the matter is pending there. However, the NIA countered that since no stay order has been passed by the apex court of the country so far, the central agency will continue with its investigation in the matter.