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Calcutta High Court to State Police, ‘stay its hands’ on probe into attack on ED officers by Shahjahan Sheikh’s men

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Kolkata. The Calcutta High Court on Monday asked the West Bengal Police to ‘stay its hands’ on the investigation against arrested Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh till further orders.

A Bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya said that it would decide whether the probe into the alleged attack on officers of the Enforcement Directorate by Sheikh’s people should be done by the State Police or by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

“The issue is that we only permitted arresting this man but the investigations in the said FIRs (of attack on ED Officers) continued to be stayed. So how can you keep a person in custody when there will be no probe?” the Chief Justice asked Advocate General (AG) Kishore Datta.

The AG responded that the State will not proceed in the case till the matter is decided.

“Yes. Stay your hands for the time being,” the Court said.

The ED had earlier told the Bench that the State Police arrested Sheikh in the case. The agency, through Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dhiraj Trivedi, pointed out that the probe in this case was already stayed by the same Bench last month.

“The State Police was very much aware of this Court’s order staying investigations in the said FIR yet the chose to arrest him under the said FIR. Now, he has been sent to police custody and the State is not probing anything and like this it will pass 15 days after which he will be sent to judicial custody and the CBI would not get his custody,” Trivedi told the Court.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju weighed in, saying that the State Police purposely arrested Sheikh in the said FIR and this shows ‘malafide’ on its part.

“Milords, the State could have arrested him in more than 40 FIRs pending against him. But they chose to arrest him in these two FIRs. The intention is only to defeat the FIRs and nothing else. We need his exclusive custody. All orders passed by this Court are defeated while arresting him and now he is merrily enjoying the custody and he is basking in the sun and have nothing to do. Thus, there is no purpose and this arrest is a farce. If there is no investigation during this custody period for 15 days then there will be nothing coming out,” Raju argued.

AG Datta, however, tried to justify the State Police’s action to arrest Sheikh in the said FIR saying that there was some ‘misunderstanding’ on the part of the local police.

“This is highly unfair submission on the part of the AG. Your Lordships had orally clarified last time that the stay is only on probe not arrest. Yet Mr. AG is making such a submission.”

The AG went on to say that the probe cannot be transferred to the CBI, as the State Police is competent to investigate the case. He added that there is no allegation by the ED that the State Police had any role in the attack on its officers.

Countering the submissions, DSG Trivedi said that the local police has been ‘biased’ right from the very beginning of the incident. He pointed out that even before registering the complaint by the ED, the local police lodged a suo-motu case against the ED sleuths, accusing them of outraging modesty of women, assaulting women and children etc.

“The local police has been only trying to manipulate the case so that the entire FIR is defeated. Its actions from the beginning are tarnished. Thus, the probe must be transferred to the CBI,” he submitted.

After hearing the submissions, the Court reserved its judgment in the appeals.

Inputs – Bar&Bench

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