The West Bengal government is attempting to implicate and victimize BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari by filing criminal cases, the Calcutta High Court observed on Monday while granting protection from arrest to Adhikari in two cases registered against him (Suvendu Adhikari v. State of West Bengal). Single-judge Justice Rajasekhar Mantha also stayed the investigation against him in four other cases.
The court said that prima facie there appears to be an attempt at implicating and victimizing him in criminal cases and mala fiides, malice, and collateral purpose in registering the FIRs against the petitioner (Adhikari) and his associates. A scheme and or conspiracy and or pattern and or stratagem appear to have been devised to entrap the petitioner and his associates to ensure their incarceration and custody inter alia to embarrass them. The Court further observed that there is prima facie evidence of abuse and or misuse of State and police machinery in registering cases for investigation based on half-truths, fiction, concoctions, and non-events.
Adhikari had approached the High Court alleging that the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government was abusing police machinery by registering 6 FIRs against him in 4 different police stations. He sought Court’s intervention in the FIRs or in the alternative to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He submitted that victimization and harassment by the State had begun immediately after he changed political allegiance in December 2020 and joined BJP. He was earlier one of the most prominent leaders of the ruling All India Trinamool Congress party and was Transport minister of the State cabinet besides being in charge of the Department of Irrigation and Waterbodies.
The plea set out the 6 FIRs registered against him and his associates. In February 2021, Maniktala Police Station Case No. 28 of 2021 was registered under Sections 120B/420/467/468/471 against two of his associates. On March 18, 2021, Nandigram Police Station has registered another FIR against the petitioner under Sections 149/323/325/307/354/370 and 506 of the IPC. On June 1, 2021, about a month after results of the Assembly elections were declared, Contai Police Station registered FIR No. 193 of 2021 under Sections 448/379/409 and 120B of the IPC read with Sections 51 and 53 of the Disaster Management Act 2005. On July 7, 2021, Contai PS registered FIR No. 248 of 2021 under Sections 302 and 120B of the Penal Code in relation to a 2018 murder case.
The 5th proceeding against the petitioner was registered suo moto by the Officer-in-Charge, Tamluk PS on July 19, 2021, under Sections 341/186/187/188/189/263/270//295A/506 and 120B of the IPC. This was based on an allegation that Adhikari at a political rally made inflammatory speeches to hurt and cause insult to the religious sentiments and feelings of certain communities and also threatened the SP, Purba Medinipur. The Court after examining the above noted that the petitioner was charged with theft of tarpaulin sheets when two days prior to the registration of FIR, the chairman of the Municipality had complained to the police that there was “an attempt to steal” the said tarpaulins. Similarly, a case of suicide closed in the year 2018 and publicly announced as such by the Police, was registered as a murder case against the petitioner 3 years after the closure. The court opined that there is prima facie evidence before this Court of abuse and or misuse of State and police machinery in registering cases for investigation based on half-truths, fiction, concoctions, and non-events, therefore, ordered that there shall be a stay of proceedings in respect of the Contai Police Station Case No. 248 of 2021 dated July 7, 2021, and the Nandigram Police Station Case No. 110 of 2021 dated March 18, 2021. Panskura Police Station Case No. 375 of 2021 and 376 of 2021 shall also remain stayed, the Court added.
As regards investigation into the other two Police Station cases i.e. Manicktala Police Station Case No. 28 of 2021 dated February 27, 2021, and Tamluk Police Station Case No. 595 of 2021 dated July 19, 2021, the Court said that the probe may go on but no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner. Adhikari should co-operate with the ongoing probe, the Court added. The Court also ordered that State shall furnish information as regards any further FIR registered against the petitioner. The order further said that the State shall also obtain leave of this Court before arresting the petitioner or taking any coercive action against the petitioner in all such cases. The Investigating Authorities shall, as far as possible, considering the public responsibilities of the petitioner, accommodate him, if he is required to give any statement, from a place and time convenient to him.