May 6: A Calcutta High Court division bench today sent back the Sagar Ghosh murder case to Justice Dipankar Dutta, but expunged his remarks on Mamata Banerjee and Birbhum Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal, an accused.
The division bench, headed by Chief Justice A.K. Mishra, also stayed Justice Dutta’s order directing Bengal director-general of police G.M.P. Reddy to appear before him and clarify why action was not taken against Mondal.
The division bench, however, gave Justice Dutta the liberty to take whatever action he deemed necessary, including asking the DGP to attend his court, if he is dissatisfied with the report filed by the special investigating team.
“After getting a copy of the division bench’s order, we will approach Justice Dutta to continue the hearing of the case,” said Shirshendu Singha Roy, the junior advocate of Sagar’s son Hriday.
In response to a petition by Hriday seeking a CBI probe into the murder, Justice Dutta had said in an order on April 10: “I have taken judicial notice of the fact that accused Mondal has the blessings of the chief minister and it can be reasonably revealed that the DGP and other members of the special investigation team have not dared to take action because of political influences that the accused enjoys.”
Justice Dutta had directed DGP Reddy to attend his court the next day and clarify why the police was not taking action against Mondal.
Sagar, a resident of Birbhum’s Parui, was murdered by suspected Trinamul activists four days after Mondal told party workers at a rally to burn down the houses of dissidents contesting last year’s panchayat polls as Independents and bomb the police if they came to the rescue. Hriday had contested the elections as an Independent.
On April 11, the state government had moved an appeal before the division bench of Chief Justice Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi, which issued an interim stay on Justice Dutta’s order.
Hriday had then moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the division bench’s order.
On April 28, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and expressed “shock” at the “sweeping” remarks of Justice Dutta. “We are shocked at the observations made by the learned single judge. Rightly or wrongly, he has made the comments, which he should not have made when the trial is in progress,” the apex court had said. The Supreme Court sent back the case to the high court division bench.
Today, Chief Justice Mishra, Justice Bagchi and senior advocate Arunava Ghosh, who appeared for the petitioner, agreed that the case should be sent back to Justice Dutta.
“After the Supreme Court’s remarks, this division bench can expunge certain portions of Justice Dutta’s order and send back the case to him for disposal,” Ghosh said.
Government pleader Ashok Banerjee agreed to Ghosh’s proposal and said: “We only want that the part of the order in which the single-bench judge had asked the DGP to appear be stayed.”
Life in jail
A Trinamul leader accused in the Sagar Ghosh murder case was among 35 sentenced to life imprisonment today by a Suri court for killing a CPM worker 17 years ago.
Sajman Sheikh is the anchal vice-president of the party in Parui’s Kasba panchayat area.
According to case records, CPM worker Jainal Abedin, 35, was hacked to death allegedly by the 35 near a pond on September 5, 1996. The murder was seen as the fallout of a CPM-RSP rivalry.
The 35 convicts, including Sajman, were RSP members at the time of the murder but switched to Trinamul in 2002.
Told that Sajman and the 34 others had joined Trinamul in 2002, Birbhum Trinamul chief Mondal said: “I have to find out their identities and only then can I comment. Now everybody is with Trinamul.”