The High Court has the power to transfer investigation to the CBI even without the consent of the State Government as is laid down by series of judgments of Supreme Court. However, such power should be exercised in rare and exceptional cases : High Court of Tripura

In the normal circumstances of minor breach of peace, the administration may be well within its right to broker peace between warring groups to achieve more lasting peaceful solution in the locality. However, when an offence as serious as one punishable under Section 307 of IPC is disclosed, the same cannot be a matter of compromise as held by the High Court of Tripura through the learned bench lead by Chief Justice Akil Kureshi in the case of Mrs. Buddhapati Chakma v. The State of Tripura (WP(Crl.) No.6/2021)

The brief facts of the case are that, the petitioner’s husband and his brother were allotted lands under Forest Rights Act, 2006 under two separate allotment orders. On 19th October 2020, the members of one Vivekananda Memorial Club of Kanchanpur started constructing pandals for Durga Puja on the lands allotted to Pindulal Chakma and his brother (since deceased) without their consent. On 21st October 2020, wife of deceased Premlal Chakma along with a community leader approached the Kanchanpur Police Station seeking protection against the land. They were diverted to the SDM. However, no action was taken on the same. At about 10:00 O’clock in the morning of 22nd October 2020 the members of Chakma tribe of the village organized a peaceful protest at Laljuri bridge, Kanchanpur. At around 11.30 a.m a mob of about 150-200 members and supporters of Vivekanda Memorial Club who were non-tribals attacked the protestors with dao, lathi, iron rod, spade etc. and caused grievous injuries to Pindulal Chakma and one Bikanta Chakma. At Dharmanagar District Hospital, condition of Pindulal Chakma deteriorated and therefore was referred to ILS Hospital, Agartala, where he succumbed to his injuries on 4th November 2020. An FIR was lodged before Kanchanpur Police Station regarding this incident, in which it was alleged that the mob of about 150-200 persons belonging to Vivekananda Memorial Club had attacked the peaceful protestors and caused serious injuries to Bikanta Chakma and Pindulal Chakma and the victims are in serious condition.

The Hon’ble High Court held, “Considering the issues involved and the factual and legal complexities of the investigation, we do not think that this case presents such rare or exceptional circumstances where the CBI should be involved. However, looking to the slow progress in the investigation and the past incidents noted in the earlier portion of this judgment, the investigation must be taken away from the purview of the local police authorities and be handed over to a Special Investigation Team(SIT) that shall be constituted by this Court. Offences punishable under Section 3(2)(v) and (v-a) of SC ST Act shall be added to the investigation. The State-administration shall proceed to determine the compensation payable to the family of the victim. With the aforesaid directions, the petition is disposed of.”

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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