Supreme Court dismisses West Bengal’s appeal against the CBI investigation in the Sandeshkhali case

The West Bengal government’s appeal against the Calcutta High Court’s decision to give the CBI investigation into the January 5 assault on an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team in Sandeshkhali was denied by the Supreme Court on Monday.

Supporters of the now-suspended TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh are said to have carried out the assault on the ED team on January 5. However, after Additional Solicitor General SV Raju stated that he had no objection to the remarks being expunged as long as the final order transferring the probe to the CBI remained intact, a Bench made up of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta removed certain critical remarks made against the state government and the police in the high court order dated March 5.

Raju informed the Bench that the state police inquiry would be a farce if it was not turned over to the CBI. The Bench questioned the delay in the probe and asked senior counsel Jaideep Gupta, who was representing the West Bengal Police, why suspended TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh was not arrested right away after the incident.

The Bench questioned Gupta, “Why wasn’t he (Sheikh) arrested for 50 days?” Gupta said that the inquiry was on hold at the time and the state government needed to get clarity from the high court.

“Within a day of the high court’s judgment being clarified, Sheikh was taken into custody. Seven persons had already been taken into custody after the incident on January 5th, when the police had filed a formal complaint about it, according to Gupta. He went on to say that it was “utterly incorrect” to prolong the probe.

The Bench said that 42 FIRs had been filed against Sheikh and inquired as to why they had been filed, citing the high court ruling. The Bench questioned, “So, why weren’t chargesheets filed? Gupta stated that all these FIRs were lodged over a period of time and involved Sheikh as well as some others.” What is the duration of the process?

“They attempted to downplay the evidence on the ED officers’ attack. There were three wounded ED officers. The inquiry was halted by the court because, despite having been made out under Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to kill), they filed another case. Raju said that the Advocate General only consented to include Section 307 of the IPC after the High Court made a request.

The West Bengal government filed a plea against the high court ruling with the top court on March 6, claiming it was arbitrary, unlawful, and perverse and that it should be overturned.

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