Post Poll Violence| Anticipatory Bail to Mamta’s Banerjee’s Election Agent SK Supiyan in murder case; Must fully cooperate in the probe: SC

Supreme Court: In a breather to SK Supiyan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee’s Election Agent in the Vidhan Sabha Elections held in 2021, the bench of L Nageswara Rao and Abhay S. Oka, JJ has granted him anticipatory bail in the Nandigram murder case but has directed him to fully cooperate with CBI for investigation and to remain present for investigation as and when called upon by the investigating officer. The Court made clear that the pre-arrest bail is liable to be cancelled if it is found that the appellant is not cooperating for the investigation.

One Debabrata Maity sustained injuries on 3rd May 2021 in an alleged incident of mob attack. He succumbed to injuries on 13th May 2021.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal urged on behalf of Supiyan that CBI tried to implicate him for political reasons as he was the election agent of the Chief Minister of West Bengal in the Vidhan Sabha Elections held in 2021. It was submitted that most of the witnesses are workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and that as per media reports Suvendu Adhikari, who is a leader of BJP who contested election against the Chief Minister, in statements made by him in October 2021, stated that Supiyan would be named by the investigating agency and will be arrested.

Aman Lekhi, Additional Solicitor General of India, on the other hand urged that this is a case of a serious offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC and therefore, custodial interrogation of Supiyan is necessary. Relying upon statements of the witnesses recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, he urged that looking into the seriousness of the allegations, Supiyan does not deserve the protection of pre-arrest bail.

The Supreme Court took note of the crucial fact that though two charge sheets have been filed on 5th October 2021 and 9th January 2022, Supiyan has not been named as an accused therein. While CBI is relying upon statements of 5 witnesses recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, the statements of the first two witnesses were recorded on 7th September 2021 and 11th November 2021 respectively but the appellant was not named in both the charge sheets filed thereafter. Though the statement of Shri Manoj Kumar Bera was recorded on 18th November 2021, he was not cited as a witness in the first two charge sheets. The statements of the other two witnesses have been belatedly recorded on 24th January 2022.

Hence, considering the peculiar facts of the case, the Court held that Supiyan deserved to be granted anticipatory bail.

[SK Supiyan v. CBI, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 164, decided on 09.02.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Abhay S. Oka


Counsels

For appellant: Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal

For CBI: Additional Solicitor General of India Aman Lekhi

For complainant: Senior Advocate P.S. Patwalia

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