Bhangabera bridge, from which the police had fired in 2007
Calcutta, Feb. 6: The family members of those killed in the police firing in Nandigram in March 2007 today moved an application in Calcutta High Court demanding that the CBI chargesheet be quashed.
The division bench of Justices Asim Kumar Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee admitted the application and will hear it on February 11.
The court directed all parties to the case, including the Bar Association, to be present during the hearing. The association was made a party to the case along with six persons who had sought a CBI probe into the firing.
Moving the application on behalf of the relatives of 13 of the 14 villagers who died in the police firing, advocate Rajdeep Majumdar told the court: “The CBI chargesheet is contrary to the order passed by Calcutta High Court in November 2007 that dubbed the firing unconstitutional.”
The chargesheet, submitted in a Haldia court in December last year, mentions that the administration had declared the gathering of land acquisition protesters on March 14, 2007, “unlawful”.
It says the police had tried to control the gathering with mike announcements, lathis, rubber bullets, tear-gas shells and firing in the air before resorting to “target firing”.
The chargesheet names 166 villagers. The CBI chargesheet on the police’s role in the firing is yet to be submitted.
Advocate Majumdar said the high court order in 2007 was based on a preliminary report by the CBI.
“The report had alleged that the police had opened fire in violation of the provisions of the West Bengal Police Rule. But in the recent chargesheet, the CBI accused the villagers of forcing the police to open fire. How can the CBI now have different findings?” the lawyer asked.
The CBI chargesheet mentions that the protesters had pelted the police with bricks.
Majumdar demanded that the division bench immediately quash the chargesheet and order the CBI to conduct a fresh probe. “The court may also set up a special investigating team,” the lawyer added.
CBI lawyer Ashraf Ali opposed the plea, saying: “The CBI had filed a preliminary report in 2007. The chargesheet was filed after elaborate investigations. So it might differ from the preliminary report.”
Advocate Majumdar said he did not believe the probe had been impartial. “So they (the relatives of the deceased villagers) are demanding that the chargesheet be quashed,” he said.
A day after the Nandigram firing, a division bench headed by then Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar had taken cognisance of the incident and suo motu directed the CBI to conduct a probe and file a report.
In July, the division bench passed an order directing the CBI to complete the probe “as quickly as possible”.