Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ and S.G. Chattopadyay, J., decided in a petition which was filed by the wife of deceased since the police failed to make arrests of the accused persons or to include the provisions of Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter to be referred to as “SC ST Act”), her husband had died due to injuries caused by a violent mob with deadly weapons in an incident which took place on 22nd October 2020 and belonged to a Scheduled Tribe(ST).

Petitioner, her husband and his brother were allotted lands under Forest Rights Act, 2006 under two separate allotment orders both dated 3rd May 2009. The non-tribal residents of the area wanted to grab these lands. Complaints of illegal land grabbing of the tribals by non-tribals were also made to the Minister of Tribal Welfare and Forest in November 2018 who had asked the SDM to look into the matter and do the needful. This couldn’t lead to a resolution thus finally petition was filed.

The prayers were as follows:

(i) For transferring the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

(ii) To invoke the penal provisions of SC ST Act against the perpetrators.

(iii) To declare Burshingpara village under Kanchanpur Police Station as an identified area in terms of Section 2(c) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 (hereinafter to be referred to as “the said Rules of 1995”).

(iv) To deploy sufficient force in the area to protect the resident members of Scheduled Tribe.

(v) To provide compensation of Rs.8,25,000/- to the petitioner and the dependents of the deceased in terms of the Rules of 1995 and to provide other support such as family pension and Government job to one member.

(vi) To order inquiry against Officer-in-Charge of Kanchanpur Police Station and Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Kanchanpur for willful neglect of duties which led to murder of the husband of the petitioner. The contention of the petitioner and her counsel is that the investigation carried out by the police authorities so far is just eyewash.

The Court found out that this case was not a fit case where the investigation should be handed over to the CBI. Undoubtedly, the High Court as a Constitutional Court and a Writ Court has the power to transfer such investigation to the CBI even without the consent of the State Government as is laid down by series of judgments of Supreme Court further holding that this case did not presents such rare or exceptional circumstances where the

CBI should be involved. However, looking to the slow progress in the investigation and the past incidents noted in the earlier portion of this judgment, the investigation must be taken away from the purview of the local police authorities and be handed over to a Special Investigation Team(SIT) that shall be constituted by this Court.

The Court further directed the following:

  • Offences punishable under Section 3(2)(v) and (v-a) of SC ST Act shall be added to the investigation.
  • Further investigation shall be carried out by a Special Investigation Team(SIT) which would be headed by the Superintendent of the District, assisted by the Dy.S.P who shall work under the guidance and supervision of the S.P.
  • Request for transferring the investigation to CBI is refused.
  • The State-administration shall proceed to determine the compensation payable to the family of the victim at appropriate stage in terms of the provisions contained in the SC ST Act and the Rules made thereunder in view of the addition of the offences punishable under the SC ST Act. In the meantime, an ad-hoc amount of Rs.5,00,000/- shall be paid over to the petitioner, widow of the deceased Pindulal Chakma which payment shall be adjusted towards the compensation that may be found payable under the provisions of the SC ST Act and the Rules made thereunder or under the scheme framed by the State Government for financial assistance from the Chief Minister Discretionary Fund, as the case may be. This amount shall be paid within 1(one) month from today.
  • The Home Department shall take a final decision without any further delay and in any case, within 1(one) month from today with respect to the proposal for declaring the village in question as a disturbed area in terms of Section 2(c) of the SC ST Act.
  • Further prayers of the petitioner for grant of family pension Government job to the member of the family of the deceasedmust rest on the outcome of the investigation particularly with respect to commission of offence under SC ST Act and the Government schemes in this regard which are not brought on record by either side. We, therefore, refrain from giving any such directions and leave it open to the petitioner to agitate these prayers in future if the circumstances so justify.
  • The original papers pertaining to the case which are placed before us may be returned to the respondents.

[Buddhapati Chakma v. State of Tripura, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 539, decided on 11-10-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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