Coal Mining Probe: Calcutta High Court DB Stays Single Bench Verdict Which Held Specific Consent Of State Govt Was Needed For CBI To Investigate Beyond ‘Railway Areas’

first_imgNews UpdatesCoal Mining Probe: Calcutta High Court DB Stays Single Bench Verdict Which Held Specific Consent Of State Govt Was Needed For CBI To Investigate Beyond ‘Railway Areas’ Sparsh Upadhyay13 Feb 2021 8:01 AMShare This – xThe Calcutta High Court on Friday (12th February) stayed the Single Judge Bench ruling which had ruled that probe beyond the Railway areas (in the State of West Bengal), shall be conducted by the CBI only subject to specific consent being granted by appropriate authorities of the State of West Bengal. The Bench of Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Aniruddha Roy was hearing an…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Calcutta High Court on Friday (12th February) stayed the Single Judge Bench ruling which had ruled that probe beyond the Railway areas (in the State of West Bengal), shall be conducted by the CBI only subject to specific consent being granted by appropriate authorities of the State of West Bengal. The Bench of Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Aniruddha Roy was hearing an appeal filed by the CBI challenging the order of the Single Judge Bench. The Division Bench, in its order, noted, “Proper investigation cannot be carried out if the investigation in such cases is divided into parts, drawing lines on territories once the premier central agency is in the process of investigation.” The Court also remarked, “In case during the pendency of the present appeals, the investigation being carried out by the CBI is hampered, the process of investigation at this stage will certainly be prejudiced, which will not be in the interest of justice as any delay in the process may be fatal…” However, on 27th April, the Calcutta High Court will be hearing the case again to ascertain as to whether CBI can probe cases in Bengal even after the state has withdrawn its “general consent” in 2018. The Case before the Court The case pertains to illegal mining and transportation of coal through Railways in connivance with officers of the Eastern Coalfield Limited, Railways, C.I.S.F. and some other private persons including the writ petitioner (Anup Majee). Arguments put forth Solicitor General of India contended before the Court that the direction of the Single Judge was restricting the course of the investigation to only the Railway areas is total without jurisdiction, as the investigation of a case cannot be circumscribed by territorial jurisdiction. On the other hand, the Advocate General contended before the Court that in view of the withdrawal of State Government’s General Consent (dated November 16, 2018), no investigation for any offence committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of West Bengal can be carried out by the CBI. Appearing for writ petitioner (Anup Majee), Senior Counsel Siddharth Luthra argued that the words ‘Railway Areas’ have not been defined under the 1946 Act and hence, the statute to that extent is vague and the CBI cannot be given unlimited powers to investigate the cases where no territorial jurisdiction is defined. It was further argued that a plain reading of the FIR shows that the offence was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of State of West Bengal as it was in the mining area of Eastern Coalfield Ltd. Further, he said that it may have extended to the Railway Area but the primary offence being within the jurisdiction of the State of West Bengal, protection of the 1946 Act cannot be taken by CBI to investigate the offence. Lastly, he argued that the investigation and any coercive action against Anup Majee deserves to be stayed. In response to this, Mr. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India submitted that no prejudice as such will be caused to the accused herein (Anup Majee) if the offence is investigated by the CBI. He argued that if in the case, finally the court comes to the conclusion that CBI had no jurisdiction to investigate the offence, the material collected by that time will be transferred to the investigating agency having jurisdiction to investigate. Importantly, he argued that any delay in the process will certainly hamper the investigation as during the interregnum the witnesses maybe won over or the case property or records destroyed or tampered with. Court’s observations The Court noted that the railway areas is one of the major parts of the investigation as the coal illegally removed from the mines was transported through railways starting from the railway siding in the mining area to different places. The Court also said that plain reading of the FIR, it cannot be suggested that the offence has been committed at one place as these are chain of events, which are interlinked with the railways and other officers, including those of Para-Military Force, namely, CISF, who are drawing salaries from the Central Government. Further, the Court observed, “The case sought to be set up by the appellant/ writ petitioner is to choose the investigation agency, for which he has not right. His only concern can be fair investigation and trial. Fair investigation in any case will not prejudice the writ petitioner.” Lastly, the order passed by the learned Single Judge was stayed and effectively, the CBI was allowed to investigate the matter without any hindrance. Case title – The Central Bureau of Investigation v. Anup Majee and Others With Anup Majee v. Union of India and Others [MAT No.158 of 2021 with CAN No. 1 of 2021 With MAT No.167 of 2021 with CAN No. 1 of 2021] Click Here To Download OrderRead OrderNext Storylast_img read more