Birbhum violence: Calcutta HC hands over probe to CBI, directs state govt to ‘extend full cooperation’ – The Indian Express

Kolkata News

The Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the killings in Birbhum’s Bogtui village, where eight people were burnt alive earlier this week, and submit its preliminary report on April 7 when the matter will be heard again. The court directed the state government “to extend full cooperation to CBI in carrying out the further investigation”.

Following the conclusion of submissions by all parties in the last two days, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the state government to probe the incident not to carry out investigation anymore and hand over the case files to the central agency. The court also told the state to hand over the accused arrested to date in the case to the CBI.

“We are of the opinion that facts and circumstances of the case demand that in the interest of justice and to instil confidence in the society and to have fair investigation to dig out the truth it is necessary to hand over the investigation to the CBI. Accordingly, we direct the State Government to forthwith hand over the investigation of the case to CBI. We also direct the State authorities to extend full cooperation to CBI in carrying out the further investigation. In view of this order, the State police authorities or SIT formed by the State will not carry any further investigation in the matter from the time the same is handed over to CBI,” read the order.

The Division Bench added, “CBI will not only be handed over the case papers but also the accused and suspects who were arrested in the matter and in custody. Hence, we direct the CBI to forthwith take over the investigation in the case and submit the progress report before us on the next date of hearing. We make it clear that any factual observation made in this order is only tentative for the purpose of deciding the issue of transfer of investigation to the CBI and will not be treated as binding in any other proceeding.”

Advocate and BJP leader Priyanka Tibrewal who appeared as a petitioner in person seeking a fair investigation said, “The court has accepted the demand for an impartial probe. After hearing both sides, the court has ordered a CBI probe into the incident. The court has felt that there is a need to provide justice to the people.”

The state government has not yet responded to the court order. Last year, following post-poll violence, the Mamata Banerjee-led administration had moved the Supreme Court against a Calcutta High Court order directing the CBI to probe alleged cases of murder and crimes against women. The government argued before the court that the agency’s actions were void ab initio after the state government withdrew the agency’s general consent under Section 6 of the DSPE Act, 1946 on November 16, 2018. The general consent had been accorded to the CBI by the previous Left Front government in 1989.

Bogtui case

Eight people, including two children, were charred to death as nearly a dozen houses were set ablaze in Bogtui in Birbhum’s Rampurhat block early Tuesday in a suspected fallout over the murder of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) panchayat official. The SIT has so far arrested 22 people, including the TMC’s Rampurhat I block president Anarul Hossain.

Welcoming the court order, the BJP’s IT Cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted, “Grateful to the Calcutta HC for ordering CBI probe in the Rampurhat massacre. Mamata Banerjee’s admin and SIT constituted by the WB Govt inspired no confidence whatsoever. It seemed more like a means to cover up the crime and protect TMC leaders involved in the ghastly killings.”