The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a PIL seeking an SIT probe headed by a retired apex court judge or the CBI into the July 13 incident in Patna in which a BJP leader died while taking part in a protest against the Nitish Kumar government.
A bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta asked the petitioner to approach the Patna High Court.
“The high courts are constitutional courts. Their power under Article 226 of the Constitution is enormous. They being the local high court can monitor and constitute SIT with competent officers if they find local police is not working properly,” the bench said.
Sensing the disinclination of the bench, the petitioner withdrew the case and the matter was dismissed as withdrawn.
The top court asked the high court to take up the matter on urgent basis and decide expeditiously. It clarified that it has not expressed anything on the merits of the case.
Vijay Singh, a BJP leader from Jehanabad district, died while taking part in a ‘Vidhan Sabha march’. While party leaders claimed he died in a brutal lathicharge by police, the Patna district administration said in a brief statement that “no injury marks” were found on his body.
The march, organised in support of agitations against the state government’s teacher recruitment policy, had started from Patna’s Gandhi Maidan and was stopped a couple of kilometres away from the assembly premises.
The petition, filed in the apex court by Bihar resident Bhupesh Narayan, also asked for an investigation into the role played by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav and other officials, including the state’s police chief, for allegedly “protecting the real perpetrators” of the incident.
“The police is under a constitutional obligation to uphold the rule of law and maintain law and order,” said the plea. “In a democratic country, peaceful procession or march or demonstration against the government policy is a well recognised method of protest,” it added.
The petition claimed the members of the procession were suddenly surrounded by police in a pre-planned manner and batons, water cannons and teargas shells were used, resulting in a chaotic situation.
It alleged that “police brutality and atrocity” resulted in the death of Singh.