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Nia: Supreme Court junks West Bengal plea, NIA to probe Ram Navami unrest | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a Calcutta HC order directing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe six incidents of violent attacks on Ram Navami processions at four places in West Bengal between March 31 and April 3, rejecting the Trinamool Congress government’s vehement opposition to a probe by the central agency.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra told the West Bengal government that the Calcutta HC’s April 23 order directing the Centre to consider ordering an NIA probe into the six incidents was well-considered as the complaint clearly mentioned attacks using bombs, a “scheduled offence” under the Explosives Act under which the Centre can direct the NIA to probe.
The HC had ordered NIA probe on a batch of petitions led by BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. Following the order, the Union government issued a notification on May 8 under Section 6(5) of the NIA Act directing the central agency to probe the “scheduled offences” under the Explosives Act. The NIA registered FIRs on May 10. A special NIA court took cognisance of the FIRs on May 11 and directed the state police to hand over case records to the central agency.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the NIA, said even though the direction to hand over case records was issued on May 11, the state government had not done so.
Appearing for Adhikari, senior advocate P S Patwalia said the incidents were related and the attacks using crude bombs, petrol bombs and other deadly weapons were carried out in a coordinated manner, requiring probe by the NIA. For an intervenor, advocate Bansuri Swaraj said though the medical examination report showed injuries from bomb attacks and the complaint clearly mentioned so, the state police refused to register an FIR and, surprisingly, made the complainant an accused in the FIR.
Appearing for West Bengal, senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan said the state had on its own registered FIRs under the Explosives Act in some earlier instances. But in these six cases, no evidence of bomb attack was found, he said and read out the medical report reflecting a minor abrasion to the complainant. He said Ram Navami processions deliberately deviated from the approved route and started brick-batting in certain areas, resulting in a backlash.
He said BJP leaders had brought in politics to show the state police in a bad light and added that transferring the probe to the NIA would demoralise the state police force. But the SC refused to intervene and said since the state had not challenged the May 8 notification of the central government entrusting the probe to NIA, the SC would not not stop a probe that was already underway.

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