Bengal plea against CBI probe in driver's death dismissed

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a petition by the West Bengal government challenging a CBI probe into the death of a driver, which was ordered by the state high court.

An apex court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, while dismissing the state government plea, said that in the peculiar circumstances of the case, they were not inclined to interfere with the high court order.

The driver, Kazi Nasiruddin, was picked up by the West Bengal Police Jan 18 from Madanmohan Tala and taken to Dhaniakhali police station where he was allegedly beaten mercilessly. He later succumbed to his injuries in police custody.

Following this, the state government ordered a CID probe, which the high court found, was not moving in the right direction and handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Nasiruddin's death in custody sparked an uproar in political circles as he was alleged to be a member of the Trinamool Congress who was having strained relations with local party legislator Ashima Patra. It was alleged that the police had allegedly acted at Patra's behest.

The high court by its May 13 order had transferred the investigation from state CID to CBI with a direction that the latter would take over the investigation from CID within seven days.

Assailing the investigation by the CID on six counts, the high court had said: "The state investigating agency has failed to conduct the investigation in fair and impartial manner and has abrogated and derelicted its basic sovereign duty to investigate the crime...."

It said the state CID did not carry out "investigation as to the circumstances and/or reason for the second telephonic exchange between the officer-in-charge and the local MLA (legislator) immediately after the custodial death of the victim," adding that after Nasiruddin'a arrest, Patra had a telephonic conversation with the officer-in-incharge of Dhaniakhali police station.

Handing over the investigation to CBI, the court had said: "CBI shall thereafter conduct a free and fair investigation in all aspects of matter bearing in mind the deficiencies in investigation as indicated by us...."

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