21 April 2022 3:37 PM GMT
The Calcutta High Court has recently ordered the transfer of investigation into explosions in Birbhum district to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of State of West Bengal by holding that the central agency has precedence in the investigation of scheduled offence.A Bench comprising Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Bivas Pattanayak vacated...
The Calcutta High Court has recently ordered the transfer of investigation into explosions in Birbhum district to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of State of West Bengal by holding that the central agency has precedence in the investigation of scheduled offence.
A Bench comprising Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Bivas Pattanayak vacated an earlier stay by a Single Judge on the NIA probe and directed the CID to cooperate with NIA and to transfer all documents related to its probe into the 2019 explosion in two residential houses in Birbhum if required.
"..we are inclined to vary the interim order passed earlier and direct subject to the result of the petition and without prejudice to rights and contentions of the parties, investigation of the aforesaid case be transferred and conducted by N.I.A. State Agency is directed to cooperate with N.I.A. in that regard and if required to transfer all documents pertaining to its investigation to the Central Agency in accordance with law."
Opining that the powers of the Central agency are much wider than the State agency, the Court remarked,
"Furthermore, investigation by Central Agency, whose powers are much wider than the State Agency, would be more effective and enure to the ends of justice. Hence, balance of convenience also lies in favour of variation/vacating of the interim direction."
The Court further opined that pursuant to Section 6 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (NIA Act), the Central Agency has precedence in the investigation of scheduled offence. Accordingly, it held that a prima facie case for transfer of investigation in favour of N.I.A. has been made out.
The Court further noted that Section 6 of the NIA Act requires the State Agency upon receipt of information which is registered as First Information Report in respect of scheduled offence to submit a report to N.I.A so that the central agency may take a decision whether to investigate the case or not depending on the gravity of the offence and other relevant factors.
Noting that the no such report had been submitted by the State agency, the Court observed,
"It appears no such report was submitted by the State Agency to N.I.A. in terms of Sub Section (2) of Section 6 of the Act. The State Agency continued investigation for more than a year. At that stage, N.I.A. suo muto exercised powers under Sub-Section (5) of Section 6 and transferred the investigations to itself."
The Court also opined that due to the operation of the impugned interim order, the investigation by the Central Agency had been stalled.
The counsel for the state claimed that the probe has been satisfactorily conducted by the CID and said that NIA had sought to transfer the investigation after a lapse of one year. On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the NIA submitted that the investigation by the central agency was stalled by a stay granted by the high court and prayed that it be vacated.
Case Title: The State of West Bengal v. Union of India & Anr.
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 133
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