The Chhattisgarh Government today promised the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Adarsh Kumar Goel that it would not interrogate Nandini Sundar and others against whom the state police has filed a First Information Report in connection with the murder of the tribal, Shamnath Baghel, till the Supreme Court permits.
Apart from the Delhi University Professor, Nandini Sundar, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari of Joshi Adhikar Sansthan, Delhi, Chhattisgarh CPI(M) state secretary, Sanjay Parate, a local resident, Mangalram Karma and CPI activist and Sarpanch of Guphidi in Sukma district, Manju Kawasi have also been named in the FIR filed by the Chhattisgarh Police.
The FIR was filed, following a complaint from Baghel’s wife, who alleged that those named in the FIR had pushed her husband to join the Maoists.
Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari and Sanjay Parate were part of a fact-finding team that looked at the impact of Maoist violence and state excesses on ordinary villagers in Bastar.
Today, when IAs 14 and 15 in the case came up for hearing before the bench, the state’s senior counsel, Additional Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta assured the bench as follows: “Till your lordships permit, we will not interrogate, keeping the sensitivity of the matter in mind. This is an issue we want to share with the Court”.
Mehta was holding a sealed cover, which he wanted the bench to peruse, to ascertain the “facts” regarding the FIR. “If your lordships read this, your attitude will change; I am saying this with utmost responsibility”, Mehta told the bench.
The bench, however, declined saying there was no need to read it, as the state Government itself was not keen to pursue the matter for the present. “We will examine it when you wish to proceed further”, the bench told Mehta.
Senior counsel, Ashok Desai, representing Nandini Sundar and others, was holding a copy of the Telegraph newspaper, which quoted the Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range), S.R.P.Kalluri, as saying that Nandini Sundar can’t enter Bastar and that people would stone her. Desai drew the attention of the bench to the Telegraph’s story.
Mehta, however, said, that every time there is a hearing in the court, there is a news item. “Let us not go by newspaper stories”, he told the bench.
He added: “There is no lis. Petition is something; IA is something else.”
Justice Goel then suggested that the state Government should give two to four weeks notice to those named in the FIR, if it wants to proceed further.
Desai, however, sought quashing of FIR, taking the threat to stone Sundar seriously. He reminded the bench that the Court had earlier quashed a non-bailable warrant issued against the the former Chief Justice, V.N.Khare, and the former President, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam.
Justice Goel then said the FIR which has been registered has no value, as the State Government is not going to take any action without giving those named sufficient notice.
“Once they issue notice, you come to us; we will protect you”, Justice Goel assured Desai.
When Desai suggested that the former Judge, Justice Gopal Gowda could be requested to mediate, Mehta again assured the bench that all those named in the FIR would not be disturbed. He also revealed that the state Government has a plan in place. “Is the FIR a part of the plan?”, asked Desai.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.