The Calcutta High Court recently rejected the plea by three Congress Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Jharkhand seeking transfer of the case against them from the West Bengal Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) [Irfan Ansari v State of West Bengal].
The three MLAs Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari were arrested after they were intercepted at Howrah where they were found to be carrying ₹48 lakh in case.
They were booked for offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act after which they moved the High Court seeking transfer of probe by any other independent agency.
Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya said that while comments by certain political leaders about the case on social media and newspapers were unwarranted, that alone cannot be sufficient to transfer the investigation.
"Although unwarranted, these comments alone are not sufficient for seeking a prayer for transfer of the investigation," the single-judge said.
Further, the judgment in the case of Arnab Ranjan Goswami Vs. Union of India was discussed wherein it was conclusively decided that accused persons could not choose which investigating agency must investigate the offence committed by them.
It emphasised that for a relief of transfer, the Court is required to arrive at conclusion that the person who is being investigated is faced with a real and imminent threat of an unfair and biased probe.
The petitioners submitted that due process was not followed when the petitioners were detained, and the West Bengal Police did not have jurisdiction to arrest them.
It was added that comments made by leaders of the State's ruling party caused the risk of a biased investigation against the petitioners and they were attempting to garner political mileage from the incident.
While refusing the prayer, the single-judge considered that the investigation was still at a nascent stage.
Justice Bhattacharya also took note of an alternative remedy available to the petitioners under criminal law .
Therefore, no basis was found to interfere or pass any orders as prayed for.
With this, the Crime Investigation Department was asked to continue the investigation in an independent fair and unbiased manner with due promptitude.
The petitioners were represented by advocates Siddharth Luthra, Kallol Mondal, Rajdeep Majumdar, Ayan Bhattacharya, Moyukh Mukherjee, Vikas Singh and Rachit Lakhmani.
Government Pleader Anirban Ray, Public Prosecutor SG Mukherjee, APP Rudra Nandi, Advocates Arijit Chakrabarti, Arko Nag, D Ghosh and Munmun Ganguly appeared for the State.
Advocates Krishnaraj Thakkar, Koustav Bagchi and Priti Kar appeared for the intervenors.
The Central Bureau of Investigation was represented by Assistant Solicitor General Billwadal Bhattacharyya and Advocate Ayanabha Raha.