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Sandeshkhali: SC declines Bengal govt’s plea, orders expunction of remarks

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The plea filed by the West Bengal government challenging the Calcutta High Court order directing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the attack on the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and central paramilitary force teams at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district on January 5 was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Monday.

However, a panel led by Justice B.R. Gavai decided to remove the critical remarks directed towards the state government and state police in the disputed ruling of the high court.

“Learned Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju fairly states that the respondent (central agency) is not interested in maintaining those observations. He submits that if those observations are expunged, he has no objection. We are therefore not inclined to entertain the petition (filed by the state government)… However, the observations made in impugned order with regard to the conduct of police and state government shall be deemed to be expunged,” said the Bench, also comprising Justice Sandeep Mehta.

Earlier on on March 5, the Calcutta High Court had issued an order directing an independent CBI investigation and instructing the West Bengal Police to transfer Sheikh Shahjahan, the main accused of the attack, from CID custody to the CBI on the same day.

Against this, the state government filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the top court saying that the Calcutta High Court order to transfer the probe to the CBI was passed in a cursory manner and frustrates its right to avail remedy available under the law.

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Following the order, the state government lodged a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the apex court, contending that the Calcutta High Court’s decision to transfer the investigation to the CBI was made hastily and impinged upon its right to pursue available legal remedies.

Notably, Sandeshkhali has been the site of protests by local women, who have raised allegations of sexual harassment and violence against certain local leaders affiliated with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party.