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SC refuses to interfere with Calcutta HC order on criminal cases relating to Suvendu Adhikari

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna, however, asked the high court to conduct expeditious final disposal of the case.

By Newsd
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Suvendu Adhikari

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with a Calcutta High Court order which restrained police from taking any coercive action against Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari in criminal cases relating to him in West Bengal, including in a CID investigation into the unnatural death of his bodyguard.

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna, however, asked the high court to conduct expeditious final disposal of the case.

”This special leave petition has been filed under Article 136 of the Constitution and arises from an interim order of the Calcutta High Court dated September 6, 2021. The single judge has permitted an affidavit in opposition to be filed within four weeks… As of date, West Bengal and the investigating officers are yet to file a reply. ”The observations of the high court prima facie at this stage are in support of the ad interim stay which have been granted. Since the high court is seized of the issue and this SLP arises from an interlocutory order, we are not inclined to exercise the jurisdiction of this court under Article 136 of the Constitution,” the bench said, while clarifying that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case.

Article 136 deals with extraordinary power of the apex court to grant special leave in cases.

At the outset, senior advocate Kalyan Bandhopadhyay, appearing for the WB government, submitted that the state police should be allowed to investigate the entire matter subject to any condition imposed by this court. He said no case of malafide is made out against Adhikari.

”A blanket order is passed such that in future also nothing can be done. The state shall also get leave of the court before arresting the petitioner in such cases. Investigation will reveal the result and the appropriate criminal court can do its job. Complaint has not been made by me. Complaints have been lodged by different persons which discloses an offence, then the police has to register a case or not,” he submitted.

He submitted that if he discharged his duty according to the Lalita Kumari judgment and registered a case, how is the law violated.

”During my 41 years of practice, I’ve never seen this type of order passed by the high court. Many people have moved to the BJP and cases have not been lodged against all of them. If there is a cognisable offence, cases have to be registered,” Bandhopadhyay said.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Suparna Kanjilal Chakraborty who is the widow of Adhikari’s bodyguard, said the so called death by suicide has not been probed. He said Adhikari should be investigated in the case and there is huge lacunae in the probe. ”The government hasn’t done anything. It’s true that I made a complaint after the election but the case has not been investigated. This is not political. I’ve got nothing to do with any political party. I could not have made a complaint when he was in power… I’m a poor woman, my husband was a security officer. The FIR doesn’t mention the name of the respondent. Why should I come in the crossfire between BJP and TMC,” Grover submitted.

Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing for the WB government, also sought to argue in the matter.

”The body was found in Adhikari’s garage, should he not be a witness? We are not accusing but should he not be called as a witness,” Guruswamy asked.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Adhikari, submitted that the high court said there is a clear case of malafide. ”It seems uncharitable to say that the judge after one month of hearing jumped to a conclusion. This court has to consider whether the single judge order is wrong,” Salve said.

In a reprieve to Adhikari, the high court had said police cannot take any coercive action in criminal cases relating to him in the state, including in the investigation by the CID into the unnatural death of his bodyguard.

The CID had asked Adhikari to appear before it in connection with its investigation in a murder case lodged by the guard’s widow in 2021, but the BJP MLA remained absent, citing pending petitions before the high court challenging FIRs against him in several cases, and political engagements.

The single judge bench had stayed proceedings against Adhikari in connection with three cases pertaining to the bodyguard’s death, an alleged political clash in Nandigram and a case of snatching lodged in Contai, Nandigram and Panskura police stations, respectively, in Purba Medinipur district.

Allowing investigation in an alleged job scam case registered with Maniktala police station in Kolkata and a case of allegedly threatening police at Tamluk, the court had directed that no coercive action can be taken against him in connection with these cases.

He is not a named accused in the cases filed in Contai and Maniktala police stations.

Directing the state government to furnish information regarding any further FIR lodged against Adhikari, the bench had directed that the state will have to obtain permission from the court before arresting him or taking any coercive action against him in all such cases.

The high court had asked the BJP leader to cooperate with investigating officers in connection with the two cases in which probe will continue, while making it clear the investigators will, as far as possible, accommodate him, if he is required to give any statement, from a place and time convenient to him, considering his public responsibilities.


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