Cal HC stays single-judge order on coal mining probe, rejects interim prayer relief of accused

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Kolkata, Feb 12 (PTI) A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Friday stayed a single bench order that had restricted a CBI investigation into alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal to just railway areas in West Bengal.

The court also rejected a prayer by accused Anup Majee for interim relief against any coercive action against him.

The division bench comprising justices Rajesh Bindal and Aniruddha Roy observed that if the process of investigation is stalled at this stage, material evidence which may have to be collected, can get lost and the accused may be able to achieve the objective for which 'frivolous litigation' has been filed.

Noting that the case pertains to illegal mining and transportation of coal through railways in connivance with officers of the Eastern Coalfield Limited, the CISF and some individuals, including petitioner Majee, the court said that the process of investigation against other accused arrayed in the FIR will also be jeopardised.

The division bench stayed the February 3 single bench order that said that the CBI is authorised to continue its investigation in respect of the FIR 'within the railway areas' situated in West Bengal.

Appearing for the West Bengal government, Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted that since permission to the CBI to carry out any probe in the state was withdrawn on November 16, 2018, no investigation for offence committed within its territorial jurisdiction can be conducted by the central agency.

Majee's lawyer prayed that the investigation and any coercive action against Anup Majee be stayed.

Opposing Majee's prayer and the state government's argument, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta submitted that no prejudice as such will be shown against the accused if the offence is investigated by the CBI.

He submitted that any delay in the process will certainly hamper the probe as witnesses may be won over or the case property or records destroyed or tampered with.

Mehta asserted that even if the state has withdrawn the consent for investigation of the cases by the CBI, the same cannot be withdrawn with reference to the railway areas.

He further referred to various provisions of CrPC in terms of which investigation, arrest of the accused can be made even beyond the boundaries of the state in which the FIR is registered, after following due process.

He submitted that even trial of an offence can be held at any place where a part of the offence is committed.

Dismissing Majees prayer for a stay on the CBI probe, the bench observed that an accused cannot choose the agency which will carry out investigation.

Directing the parties in the appeals to file affidavits, the court ordered that the matter will be taken up for hearing again on April 27. PTI AMR RMS RMS