The Calcutta High Court on Friday dismissed a prayer seeking cancellation of bail granted to two minor accused persons by the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Birbhum at Suri in the case pertaining to the violence in Birbhum district of West Bengal, in which ten persons were killed allegedly in retaliation to the murder of local All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Bhadu Sheikh. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is currently probing the case.
The Court had reserved its order on Tuesday on the plea made by the counsel appearing for the CBI as well as other petitioners seeking cancellation of the bail order dated April 25 on the contention that 'perversity is glaring' in the impugned orders.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj observed that since the aggrieved parties have the remedy of filing a revision petition before the High Court under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (2015 Act) such a plea seeking cancellation of bail cannot be entertained.
The Court also opined that since the bail had been granted by the concerned Juvenile Justice Board under Section 12 of the 2015 Act, therefore, the remedy of revision under Section 102 of the 2015 Act is available.
"Since an appropriate remedy of revision against the orders in question is available, therefore, this Court is of the opinion that in the facts of the present case, it would be more appropriate for the parties to avail that remedy. All the grounds which have been raised before this Court assailing the orders of the JJB can be raised in the revision petition and we are hopeful that if any such revision petition is filed, the same will be duly considered and decided in accordance with law after considering the grounds raised therein", the Court observed.
The Bench further noted that although the arguments have been advanced on the basis of the documents filed along with the supplementary affidavit by the CBI, however no formal application on its behalf with a prayer to cancel the bail has been made before the Court.
"It is held that since any of the aggrieved party including the CBI has a remedy under Section 102 of the Act of 2015, therefore, oral prayer in this regard cannot be granted. Hence, the CBI and concerned parties are granted liberty to avail the remedy as provided in the Act of 2015", the Court ordered.
The counsel appearing for the CBI had apprised the Court that bail had been granted to the two juvenile accused persons without any prior direction to produce the case diary or without any notice to the CBI. It was further submitted that no enquiry had been conducted to ascertain if the two accused persons are juvenile and that there was no change in circumstances after rejection of the bail application on April 12, 2022.
The Court was also informed that CBI's application seeking cancellation of bail had also been rejected by order dated April 30 on incorrect factual and legal premises.
In a related development, a PIL has also been filed in the High Court questioning the conduct of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in extending compensation and government jobs for the kin of the victims of the violence that erupted in Birbhum district of West Bengal. It was alleged that the Chief Minister had attempted to 'influence' witnesses by such a gesture.
The violence in Birbhum's Bogtui village took place following the alleged murder of Bhadu Sheikh, a panchayat leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress. He died after miscreants allegedly hurled bombs at him on March 21.
Hours later, violence erupted and several houses, including two belonging to the men accused of Sheikh's murder, were allegedly attacked and set on fire resulting in eight deaths, including that of women and children.
The police recovered eight charred bodies, primarily of women and children from the gutted houses in Bogtui village. Three victims were admitted to the local hospital. A woman who had received 25 percent burn injuries in the carnage succumbed to her injuries on Sunday. The death toll currently stands at ten.
Taking cognisance of the violence, the State government had formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the additional director general of police (CID), Gyanwant Singh, to probe the incident. However, subsequently, the investigation was handed over to the CBI pursuant to the directions of the Calcutta High Court.
As part of its investigation, the CBI has reportedly moved a local court to seek permission for conducting polygraph tests on eight people arrested in the case, including TMC leader Anarul Hossain.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also taken suo motu cognizance of the matter and issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, West Bengal calling for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks including the status for the FIRs registered in the matter, steps taken to ensure safety of the people in the village and any relief or rehabilitation provided by the State Government.
Case Title: The Court on its own Motion In re: The Brutal Incident of Bogtui Village, Rampurhat, Birbhum
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 170