KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Monday handed over investigation into the Jhalda Congress councillor murder case to the CBI. Justice Rajasekhar Mantha directed the central investigating agency to file a primary probe report within 45 days.
Justice Mantha asked Purulia Police to hand over relevant papers, documents and records of the probe so far to the CBI. The state had set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct the probe. The court ordered the CBI probe more than two weeks after four-time Congress councillor of Purulia’s Jhalda Municipality, Tapan Kandu, was shot at by three bike-borne miscreants on March 13, following which he succumbed to his injuries.
The Jhalda councillor murder case is the second one after the Bogtui massacre that the high court has ordered a CBI investigation in.
“There is a need for instilling faith in the public at large in any investigation relating to the crime in question. There is also a need to demonstrate before the public at large that the rule of law is still prevalent,” the court observed.
Advocate general S N Mookherjee didn’t oppose the order as he had done during the handing over of the Bogtui massacre probe to the CBI. “The case diaries of the Jhalda murder case and the report of the Purulia SP were submitted to the court on its directions. The court will now consider the matter. The state will abide by the court order,” he said.
The SIT made four arrests, including supari killer Kalebar Singh, the victim’s two brothers Naren and Dipak and local trader Mohammad Asik Khan. The arrests were made soon after the victim’s widow, Purnima, moved the HC complaining about little progress in the state investigation.
Purnima wondered why SIT didn’t touch Purulia inspector-in-charge Sanjib Ghosh, alleging that he was the first named in her complaint. “The Purulia IC had been putting pressure on my husband to join Trinamool and help the ruling party form the civic board in Jhalda,” Purnima claimed.
Purulia SP S Selvamurugan, however, described the murder as the fallout of a family feud and gave a clean chit to the Purulia IC while the SIT probe was at its primary stage.
Counsel for the victim’s widow, Kaustav Bagchi, drew the court’s attention to the SP’s remark on a sub judice matter. He pointed out that SIT didn’t yet seize the cellphone of the IC from where calls were allegedly made to the victim. The counsel also submitted that the SP had been questioned in the illegal coal mining case. Justice Mantha, while passing the order, recorded the lawyer’s submission.
The court had earlier observed that Jhalda Police had violated Supreme Court rulings by refusing to accept the FIR against the accused. It also took note of the fact that the videography of the crime spot was done a day after the murder.