The West Bengal government assailed in the Supreme Court on Thursday the Calcutta High Court order transferring probe into incidents of violence during Ram Navami celebration in the state to the NIA, saying no explosives were used and direction was passed on a “politically-motivated” PIL filed by opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala was told by senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, that no instances of use of any explosive was found by the police in the incidents of violence, which would have involved the NIA.
“There were no incidents involving the use of bombs. Police have looked into all the aspects and registered the FIRs,” he said.
The bench pointed to the FIR recorded in the high court order, which said bombs were hurled.
“Use of explosives is a scheduled offence for which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) can be called in to investigate. The High Court has recorded in its order that the police has deliberately omitted invoking Explosive Substance Act in the FIRs registered in connection with the incidence of violence”, the bench said.
Singhvi said the high court recorded the complaint in its order passed on a “politically-motivated” PIL filed by leader of opposition in the assembly Adhikari.
“After the high court order, the state police officers are being called by the NIA for questioning,” he said, adding that the court may stay the high court order.
Senior advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for Adhikari, opposed the prayer for stay of the order.
Singhvi sought further hearing of the matter after the summer vacation to enable him to put on record more details in the matter.
The bench said it would continue hearing the matter on Friday.
On April 27, the Calcutta High Court had ordered a probe by the NIA into the incidents of violence at Shibpur in Howrah and Rishra in Hooghly district during and after the Ram Navami celebration.
The judgement of the high court had come on a PIL by Adhikari and three other petitions seeking an NIA probe into the violence at these two places, during which bombs were allegedly hurled.
It had directed the state police to ensure that all the FIRs, documents, materials seized and CCTV footage be immediately handed over to the NIA within two weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this order.
It had also directed that the NIA “on receipt of all the materials shall commence investigation and proceed in accordance with the law.”
Passing the judgement on the bunch of petitions, the high court said, “In the cases on hand, we prima facie find that there has been a deliberate attempt on the part of the concerned police not to register any offence under the provisions of the Explosives Substances Act.”
Clashes broke out between two groups at Shibpur area of Howrah during Ram Navami festivities on March 30, during which several vehicles were torched and shops were ransacked. Violence was also reported on April 2 evening during a procession as part of the festival at Rishra.