NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to stay the Calcutta High Court order directing for NIA probe into cases connected with Ram Navami violence March 30, this year in West Bengal.
A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and K V Vishwanathan said it would not interfere with the HC's order and fixed the state government's appeal for hearing after summer vacations.
The West Bengal counsel senior advocates A M Singhvi and Gopal Sankaranarayanan submitted that NIA Act cannot be invoked in ordinary cases of violence unless the case is in connection with the security of the country or sovereignty.
"There cannot be NIA just because there might have been a bomb and argued that the high court passed the order on the assumption that bombs and explosives were used warranting the invocation of the Explosives Act, which is a scheduled offence under the NIA Act," the counsel.
Singhvi said all this was done in a PIL, by an active member of the BJP, opposition leader Suvendhu Adhikari.
On April 27, 2023, the HC noted violation of Section 6 of the NIA. During the violence which occurred during Ram Navmi, crude bombs were used to attack the procession. It was claimed that despite there being allegations about bombs, the West Bengal Police did not register an offense under Explosive Substances Act, in order to prevent NIA investigation. The high court transferred the investigations to NIA, which has already registered 6 FIRs in relation to the Ram Navami violence.
Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and P S Patwalia along with advocate Bansuri Swaraj appeared for Adhikari.
NIA was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The counsel claimed that the West Bengal government was not transferring files to NIA on the ground that they have filed a plea before the Supreme Court.
In his plea before the HC, Adhikari had raised the issue of explosives during the violation at Howrah and Dalkhola on March 30, 2023 on the occasion of Ram Navami.
In its order, a division bench headed by Chief Justice T S Shivagananam, had said, "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. There is also mention about the acid bottles and if be so, necessarily offence under the scheduled Act having been committed, the procedure under Section 6(1) of the NIA Act should have been resorted to. Therefore, we are convinced that no useful purpose would be served by directing the state police to register cases under the Explosives Substances Act or under any other scheduled act as the matter has travelled beyond the said stage and it is a fit case where the entire investigation should be transferred to the National Investigation Agency with a direction to the Central Government to exercise their power under Section 6(5) of the NIA Act."