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SC refuses to interfere in HC order on cases linked to Suvendu Adhikari

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna, however, said the petitioners may file their affidavits-in-opposition before the HC.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: December 13, 2021 11:41:00 pm
Adhikari, the BJP's Nandigram MLA, was summoned by the CID to its headquarters in Bhabani Bhawan. (File)

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the Calcutta High Court order granting Bengal BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari protection from any coercive action in criminal cases registered against him in the state.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna, however, said the petitioners may file their affidavits-in-opposition before the HC. After that, the High Court may either consider taking up the petition for expeditious final disposal or consider any application that may be filed for modification of the interim order, they said.

Disposing of the West Bengal government’s appeal challenging the HC order, the court said that “prima facie observations of the High Court at this stage are in support of the ad – interim stay which has been granted. Since the High Court is seized of the proceedings, and the Special Leave Petitions arise from an interlocutory order, we are not inclined to exercise the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution”.

Article 136 allows the top court the power to grant special leave to appeal in cases.

A single judge-bench of the Calcutta High Court on September 6 stayed proceedings against Adhikari in connection with three cases, including one linked to the 2018 death of his bodyguard Subhabrata Chakraborty.

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

Senior advocate Kalyan Bandopadhyay — appearing for the West Bengal government — said the HC’s ruling was “a blanket order” that prevented the state from taking any future action too. He added that the complaints against Adhikari were not made by the state, but by different persons. He asked whether the police should not register a case if the complainants disclosed an offence.

“During my 41 years of practice, I have never seen this type of order passed by the HC. 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,” he contended before the Supreme Court on Monday.

Appearing for Chakraborty’s wife Suparna Kanjilal, who had also challenged the HC order, advocate Anand Grover argued that the bodyguard’s death was reported as suicide, but there were doubts about the cause.

“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’m a poor woman, my husband was a security officer… Why should I come in the crossfire between BJP and TMC,”Kanjilal told the court through her counsel.

The BJP leader’s counsel, senior advocate Harish Salve, told top court that the HC found the action against Adhikari “malafide”.

“It seems uncharitable to say that the (HC) judge after one month of hearing jumped to a conclusion,” Salve added.

The September HC directive came after the CID asked Adhikari to appear before it in connection with the murder case filed by Kanjilal in 2021. The BJP leader remained absent, citing pending petitions before the HC that challenged the FIRs against him in several cases and political engagements.

Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy, also appearing for the Bengal government, too 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.

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