‘Afterall, justice should not only be done, but should be shown to have been done.’ : Calcutta HC

The bench consisting of Justice Jay Sengupta of the Calcutta High Court on Monday in the case of CBI v. The State of West Bengal (WPA 27799 of 2022),  delegated the inquiry into the suspected suicide of Lalan Sheikh, the principal culprit in the Bogtui Carnage Case, to a Special inquiry Team (SIT) led by IPS Officer Dr. Pranav Kumar. According to the high court, the SIT shall not report to the State and shall make periodical reports before the jurisdictional Court/Magistrate.

Facts of the Case:

The suspected murder of Bhadu Sheikh, a panchayat leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress, sparked the unrest in Birbhum’s Bogtui village. On March 21, 2022, he was killed after miscreants reportedly threw explosives at him. Several houses, including two belonging to the men accused of Sheikh’s murder, were allegedly attacked and set on fire, resulting in ten deaths, including women and children. The State government appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by the assistant director general of police (CID), Gyanwant Singh, to investigate the violence.  However, on March 25, 2022, the investigation was handed over to the CBI in accordance with the directions of the Calcutta High Court. During the course of the investigation, the CBI arrested 16 of the accused and filed a charge sheet and a supplementary charge sheet against a total of 26 people. Lalan Sheikh, who had previously fled, was apprehended as part of the ongoing inquiry. Sheikh purportedly committed himself on December 12, 2022, while in CBI custody, following a visit to his residence in Bogtui village. On the allegation of Sheikh’s wife, a FIR was filed against officers of the CBI under Sections 448, 323, 325, 302, 385, 386, 509, 427, and 120(B). The CBI filed an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying for direction for transfer of investigation in the alleged suicide of Sheikh from State CID to the central agency itself or to any other independent agency. The CBI submitted an application under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, requesting that the inquiry into Sheikh’s suspected suicide be transferred from the State CID to the central agency or any other impartial body. 

Judgment Review:

“The family members of the complainant including the complainant and some police officers in the area were suspected to be part of commission of offences in the Bogtui Massacre Case. Complaints in this regard of pressure and threat to life were also being received by the petitioner from the villagers. The respondent no. 2 using the CID Cover, was threatening many witnesses of the case for falsely deposing against the CBI Officers, else they would be falsely implicated in cases of the CID,” the court said. The Court noted infractions in the investigation done so far by the State Police. Regardless of the “CBI’s strong conviction” about their innocence, the Court found it odd that the agency chose to be a co-applicant in an application for quashing of proceedings alongside some co-accused officers. “So, it would also not seem proper to involve them in the further investigation of the instant case at least at this stage. After all, justice should not only be done, but also demonstrated,” it stated. The matter is again listed on May 15 for report by the Special Investigation Team.

Click here to view the judgment

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