Court asks CBI if it can give Nandigram report to Bengal

Monday, October 25, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Monday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) whether it was willing to share the report of its investigations into the 2007 Nandigram police firing with the West Bengal government.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik asked the CBI to state its position after senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the state government, said: “We must at least know who they are prosecuting and on what charges.”

Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra, appearing for the CBI, opposed the plea.

He said that under the criminal procedure code only the accused could get the report that too after the charge sheet was filed. “The accused have no right to a copy in the stage of investigation,” he said.

Justice Raveendran said: “We only said submit a report to the high court. But we never said do it in a sealed cover and not give anybody a copy of the report.”

“Let’s draw a line of distinction between the police officials and the West Bengal government,” Justice Raveendran said.

Senior counsel Venugopal told the apex court that the high court ordered the CBI probe after it struck down the rules that permitted the state police to open fire on unruly mobs.

He said that in many states firing by police in air as a warning shot was not permitted.

The CBI has sought permission to prosecute police officials found guilty of opening fire March 14, 2007 in which 14 people were killed. The victims were protesting against the acquisition of their land.

The premier investigating agency was directed by the Calcutta High Court to probe the Nandigram police firing. The CBI has already submitted its report to the high court.

The state government moved the apex court against the high court order to the CBI. The apex court while refusing to stay the investigation, restrained the CBI from prosecution of the police personnel on the basis of its report.

The investigating agency moved the apex court seeking the vacation of the interim restrain order on going ahead with the prosecution. However, this is being opposed by the state government.

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