"Strict scrutiny of statutory safeguards relating to powers of arrest and investigation are all the more necessary when it is alleged that State power has been unleashed to silence the voice of dissent", observed the Calcutta High Court on Friday.
"Without taking recourse to such prudent measure, it appears the police authorities registered the FIR in post-haste and immediately arrested the accused persons", the Single bench commented.
Justice Bagchi expressed surprise that despite the Supreme Court having repeatedly cautioned investigating agencies against unnecessary and arbitrary arrests resulting in uncalled deprivation of personal liberty at the undertrial stage, "no explanation is forthcoming regarding the hasty registration of a belated FIR without preliminary enquiry and the immediate arrest of the accused persons".
Accordingly, the bench directed the Director General of Police, West Bengal to make an enquiry into the facts leading to the registration of the delayed FIR without enquiry and the immediate and allegedly unnecessary arrest of the accused persons.
Report shall, inter alia, advert to the following issues:-
(a) why preliminary enquiry was not initiated in this case in view of the
observations in Paragraph 120.6(e) of Lalita Kumari;
(b) whether facts and circumstances of the case warranted immediate arrest of the accused persons in the light of the law declared Joginder Kumar, D.K. Basu and Rini Johar .
(c) Whether the police officers were actuated with malice and/or ulterior motive in the present case, as alleged.
While allowing that the investigation in the matter shall continue under the supervision of a superior officer nominated by D.G. of Police, the bench stipulated that no police report shall be filed without the leave of the Court.
The senior counsel appearing for the petitioners submits that the impugned FIR is a product of police persecution. Series of false criminal cases were registered against Islam and his wife who are the owners of an online news portal uploading news items relating to current affairs in the State of West Bengal in particular.
Being vexed by the disclosure of non-comfortable news items in the portal, false criminal cases were registered against its owners. Last of such case has been registered in the midnight between 28/29th June, 2020 alleging extortion in the month of March, 2020. "No explanation for delay in registration of FIR in respect of the incident which occurred three months ago is forthcoming from the materials on record", it was argued.
Soon thereafter, the accused persons were arrested and remanded to protracted detention. "Some allegations have also been levelled against the judicial authority that they mechanically remanded the petitioners in custody without examining the veracity of the allegations", recorded the bench.
The counsel for the State submitted that the complaint disclosed cognizable offences. Accordingly, FIR was registered and arrests were affected in the interest of investigation.
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