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Fresh plea, Sagar case adjourned

Calcutta, July 10: Justice Harish Tandon today adjourned the hearing of the Sagar Ghosh murder case after the victim’s daughter-in-law moved a petition in Justice Dipankar Datta’s court, seeking the transfer of the probe to an “impartial agency”.

The murder of Sagar, a Birbhum resident who was shot dead last year following an inflammatory speech by district Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal, is being probed by a high court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) led by Bengal director-general of police G.M.P. Reddy. Mondal is an accused in the case.

Justice Tandon, who was assigned the case after Justice Datta recused himself, had said on Tuesday that the DGP might be summoned to the court if the government pleader failed to explain today why the police officer did not take action against the main accused.

Justice Tandon was today informed about Sagar’s daughter-in-law Shibani’s petition to Justice Datta, who is expected to take a decision on hearing the plea when it is listed in court. Justice Tandon adjourned the hearing of the Sagar murder case till July 22.

Phiroz Edulji, the lawyer appearing for Shibani and her husband Hriday, told Justice Tandon that Shibani did not have any faith in the SIT. “So my client moved a fresh petition before Justice Datta, demanding the transfer of the probe to an impartial agency,” Edulji said.

Edulji added that there was “another reason” for moving the fresh petition. “My Lord, we have every doubt about the maintainability of the present case (the murder of Sagar and his son Hriday’s demand for a CBI probe). This case can, any day, be declared ‘not maintainable’ by the court,” Edulji said. Maintainability, in legal parlance, means whether a court can take cognisance of a case.

Justice Tandon asked Edulji: “Why and how?”

Edulji replied: “The original case was first moved by three persons whose names figure in the first FIR filed by the police in the Sagar Ghosh murder case. They are Nepal Roy and two other relatives of Sagar Ghosh. They have claimed that the police had falsely implicated them in the case.”

The three persons had filed a petition in the court of Justice Sanjib Banerjee, requesting it to declare them innocent. A few days later, Hriday, who had contested the panchayat polls as an Independent after being denied a ticket by Trinamul, had moved another petition before the same high court judge, demanding a CBI probe into the murder. Justice Banerjee had clubbed the two petitions together and after the hearing, directed Parui police to hand over the case to the CID.

As the two cases were merged, the three accused persons in the first FIR became petitioners to the case where a CBI probe was sought. According to the law, an accused cannot seek the transfer of a probe to another agency, thereby clouding the maintainability of the murder case, lawyer Edulji said. “So we filed a fresh petition today,” the lawyer told Justice Tandon.

After the jurisdiction of judges changed, the Sagar murder case was transferred to the court of Justice Datta from the court of Justice Banerjee. Dissatisfied with the CID’s investigation, Justice Datta had on February 24 this year set up the SIT.

Hriday has alleged that a day after his father was shot dead by suspected Trinamul activists, Parui police had forced Sagar’s wife Saraswati to sign on a blank sheet of paper. On that blank sheet, the police had allegedly written the FIR where the three relatives of Sagar were named.

CM CONCERN

Mamata Banerjee has instructed Birbhum Trinamul leaders other than Anubrata Mondal to bring back party dissidents who have switched over to the BJP, saying most of the rebels were opposed to the district ruling party president, sources said. At a closed-door
meeting on Wednesday, the sources quoted the chief minister as saying that the BJP, to which around 5,000 Trinamul rebels have defected over the past few days, has become a “cause for concern”. Asked about the meeting, Mondal said: “It’s an internal matter.”