SC to hear plea against CBI probe in WB coal mining case on March 10

3/1/2021

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The Supreme Court on Monday said it will examine on March 10 an appeal filed by Anup Majee challenging the Calcutta High Court order allowing a CBI probe into the illegal coal mining and transportation scam around Railways sidings, "without the state's consent".

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah observed that the court is concerned with issue of maintainability of Letter Patent Appeal, which is also known as intra-court appeal, before the division bench. Wife of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, is also being probed in the case and has been served a notice. The eight-phase poll is scheduled in the state later this month.

Majee, is the director of the coal trading company facing the charges. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court posted the matter for further hearing on March 10.

On February 22, the top court had agreed to examine a plea against the Calcutta High Court order, allowing CBI to investigate a case of alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal in West Bengal in the absence of state government consent.

However, the top court had declined to grant protection to Majee, accused in the alleged illegal coal trading in the Asansol-Raniganj belt of West Bengal.

Majee, the director of a company involved in buying and selling of dry fuel, in his plea claimed the CBI lacks jurisdiction to register a case after the state government withdrew general consent in 2018. Senior advocate AM Singhvi, representing West Bengal government, supported Majee's contention. On the question of law, Singhvi cited that state had already withdrawn its general consent.

The top court issued notice to Centre and CBI and sought their reply by March 1 on the plea.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Majee, submitted before the bench the CBI's appeal before the division bench of the High Court was not maintainable. He added February 12, order was passed without any jurisdiction. Rohatgi said the February 3, order of the single bench was not appealable as it was passed under criminal jurisdiction.

Clarifying the proceedings before the single judge, Rohatgi said it was in connection with quashing of FIR registered by CBI against the petitioner and others and insisted that allegations against his client are politically motivated. The bench observed that in the present matter both - state and the petitioner - are aggrieved parties.

A division bench of Calcutta High Court had stayed a single bench order, which restricted CBI investigation into alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal to just "railway areas" of the state. Majee's plea seeking grant of protection from any coercive action was also turned down.

Source: IANS

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