A writ petition has been filed in the Chhattisgarh High Court by the brother of a head constable — who was killed along with BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi in the Maoist attack days before Lok Sabha elections — challenging the validity and constitutionality of the NIA Act, 2008.
In the matter which was heard on Thursday, a bench of Chief Justice P R Ramachandra Menon and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu directed that respondents file responses within three weeks, with the next hearing on September 24.
The petition challenges the Act on the ground that in its current form it is “beyond the legislative competence of Parliament” and that it is against the federal structure of the Constitution.
The petitioner, Jhumar Oyami, is the brother of Bhima Oyami, a head constable who was one of the five killed along with Mandavi in the Maoist attack in Dantewada district, and was part of his security cover. While the state police had begun investigation, on May 16 the case was taken over for investigation by the NIA.
The petition says, “Present writ petition is preferred challenging the constitutional validity of the NIA Act 2008, on the grounds that the said Act, in its present form and nature, is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament. In an alternative, the petitioner seeks to declare section, 6,7,8 and 10 of the NIA Act, 2008 as ultra vires to the Constitution of India. Further petition is against the provisions of the NIA Act 2008, more particular sections 6 to 10 whereby the state government has been debarred from making investigation of any offence committed within its jurisdiction at the whims of the central government thereby usurping the exclusive powers of the state.”
Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, representing Oyami, said the police were well versed with the case and close to filing a chargesheet when the matter was handed over to the NIA, therefore impinging on justice for Oyami.
After hearing arguments, the court said, “We find it appropriate to have the matter heard elaborately and as suggested by the learned senior counsel for the petitioner, Mr Satish Chandra Verma, learned advocate general, Mr M Bopa Kumar, learned assistant solicitor general and Mr Kishore Bhaduri, learned counsel representing the National Investigation Agency, to have it listed accordingly on September 24. The returns, if any, on the part of the respondents shall be filed well in response, after serving copy to the other side, at any rate within three weeks and rejoinder, if any, shall be filed by the petitioner within one week thereafter.”