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WB files plea in SC against HC order for CBI probe into Sandeshkhali incidents of sexual exploitation, land grab

The matter will be heard on April 29 by the Supreme Court's bench of justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta.
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 11:11 IST
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 11:11 IST

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New Delhi: The West Bengal government has approached the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court's April 10 order for the CBI probe into charges of sexual exploitation of women and land grab made against TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan and others in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district

In a special leave petition, the Mamata Banerjee government questioned the mode and manner in which the sensitive issue has been politicised and exploited for political gains, and attributed criminality on the state government. The order cast an aspersion on the conduct of the state government, overlooking all the efforts taken by it till date, it said.

It claimed the High Court's order demoralised the entire state machinery, including the police force which has tirelessly and endlessly carried out their duties to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted, but also the officials from the land records department, who have been termed guilty for mutating the land, and held to be co-conspirators in a callous manner.

"Therefore not only the transfer of investigation but also the allegations and observations against the state government are required to be interfered with," the plea said.

The plea also stated the HC order, which has called for a report from the CBI on the investigation, has further painted the entire state machinery at fault attributing culpability of the state officials in the land grabbing allegations, which prima facie are unwarranted and would lead to the CBI embroiling the state officials in their investigation.

"The High Court in a very generic order directed the State to provide the required support to the CBI without any guidelines, which amounts to usurping the powers of the state police to investigate any cognisable offence in the Sandeshkhali area, even if the same is not related to the allegations levelled by the PIL petitioners," the plea said.

The purported affidavits of alleged victims enclosed along PIL is not kosher and subject to further verification as the petitioner in person i.e., Priyanka Tibrewal is the spokesperson of a political party in opposition who is steering political protest in Sandeshkhali. Therefore, the said directions are unwarranted and not sustainable in the eyes of law, the state government said.

"The High Court has failed to appreciate that the PIL petitioners, intervenors and other related parties are interested parties with oblique political motives and any liberty granted to them to file complaints before the CBI would overburden the agency with frivolous complaints and further denude the actual victims of a reasonable opportunity to file a complaint," it said.

The state government also claimed no actionable material was placed before the High Court to suggest police inaction in relations to the alleged incidents, as nearly 43 FIRs have been registered and the earliest of which was registered four years ago and.the last FIR was lodged on February 10, 2024. 

Further out of the 43 FIRs, in 42 cases, chargesheets have been filed under various penal sections including Section 376 IPC. The High Court also noted that in seven cases of land grabbing, charge sheets have been filed on February 08, 2024, apart from 24 cases of land grabbing having been registered by the state police.

"In its haste in painting the entire state machinery as biased and in cohoots with the ruling dispensation, the High Court's division bench completely ignored the material placed before it indicating the measures taken by the state government and police in the investigation," it alleged.

Widespread protests were witnessed in Sandeshkhali since February 7, 2024, alleging molestation, rape and land grabbing against TMC leader Sheikh Sahajahan and his associates, Shibu Hazra and Sushanta Sardar alias Uttam Sardar. 

The state government also said the HC went by the fact the CBI was already probing attack on ED officials in Sandeshkhali and completely overlooked, the fact that while giving supremacy to the political voices in a court proceeding, not only vitiated the matter at hand, but further would lead to biased investigation.

It also pointed out the High Court heavily relied on the report of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, which was inconclusive.

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Published 26 April 2024, 11:11 IST

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