5 Aug 2023 4:30 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court recently quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against officials of the Eastern Coalfields, who had, in accordance with directions of the Court, undertaken a raid to crack down on the “terror and running of parallel administration of illegal [coal] mining within the Eastern Coalfield area in Burdwan.”Eastern Coalfields Limited is a subsidiary of Coal India...
The Calcutta High Court recently quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against officials of the Eastern Coalfields, who had, in accordance with directions of the Court, undertaken a raid to crack down on the “terror and running of parallel administration of illegal [coal] mining within the Eastern Coalfield area in Burdwan.”
Eastern Coalfields Limited is a subsidiary of Coal India Limited and is a government company.
A single-bench of Justice Bibhas Ranjan De held:
Raid by the officials of Eastern Coalfield Ltd. by virtue of repeated directions of this Hon’ble Court cannot be said to be an illegal in any way. Therefore, the allegation made in the F.I.R in my opinion, is absurd and cannot be believable that security officers of Eastern Coalfield committed the offence of theft and outrage of modesty. After careful perusal of the all documents produced before this court, I have no hesitation to exercise jurisdiction under section 482 CrPC…in coming to the conclusion that proceeding with the trial would result in an abuse of process of the court, and would not serve the ends of justice.
These observations were made in a matter wherein Eastern Coalfields Officials, along with the CISF and police, had conducted a raid on illegal mining operations at Radhaballavpur colliery and recovered a large amount of illegally mined coal.
The petitioners submitted that when they were conducting a search of the premises, they were attacked with knives and other weapons by the ‘miscreants’ and that they were threatened with being implicated in false cases of rape and molestation.
The petitioners thereafter filed a police complaint against those running the illegal mining operation, including the initial complainant/opposite party no 2, her husband and others.
It was argued by the petitioners that as a “counter blast”, the opposite party no 2 lodged a complaint accusing the petitioners of forcing their way into her house, “armed with iron rod, lathi and other weapons in the absence of her husband, and assaulting and abusing her".
Petitioners argued that while they had lodged their complaint at 10:25am on the day of the raid, the opposite party had complained of an offence at 1pm, and the complaint was lodged at 1:35pm.
The petitioners argued that the raid for removing illegal occupants from coal field areas and prohibiting illegal mining was in pursuance of orders of a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court.
The State however, argued that an FIR filed by the opposite party cannot be characterised as a ‘counter-blast’ merely because it was filed after the FIR filed by the petitioners.
In taking into account all submissions, the Court reflected on successive orders which were passed by the High Court against the illegal mining operations going on in Eastern Coalfields premises, and subsequent directions for the removal of “rank encroachers”, and held that the Eastern Coalfields Officials were acting in compliance with Court orders, thereby quashing the criminal proceedings against them.
Case: Raja Paul & Ors. v State of West Bengal & Anr.
Coram: Justice Bibhas Ranjan De
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 213
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