calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court | A Division bench comprising of Arijit Banerjee and Apurba Sinha Ray, JJ., stayed the direction for CBI inquiry regarding the allegation of tampering with the nomination papers filed for upcoming W.B. Panchayat Elections by the Panchayat Returning Officer.

Factual Matrix

In the instant matter, a writ petition was preferred before the single bench of this Court by the two aspiring candidates-respondents for the upcoming W.B. Panchayet Elections accusing the Panchayat Returning Officer of tampering with the nomination documents that they filed. According to the respondents they had filed the caste certificate, but at the stage of scrutiny of the documents, it was held that the caste certificate was not filed, resulting in cancelation of their nomination. The single bench vide order dated 21-06-2023 directed the CBI to conduct the investigation and file a report before this Court. Aggrieved by the impugned order dated 21-06-2023 passed by the single bench of this Court, the appellant (District Magistrate of Howrah and three other officers) preferred an appeal before the division bench of this Court, challenging the same.

Appellant’s Contentions

The appellants contended that the highest investigating agency of the country, CBI, cannot be directed to conduct an enquiry, just because some allegations are made against the Officers in the Administration. The appellant stated that “any and every administrative lapse cannot be subjected to CBI enquiry.” The appellants further contended that the respondents did not file the caste certificate with their respective nominations and the writ petition is bad for non-joinder of necessary parties as the Panchayat Department of the State of West Bengal or the State of West Bengal was not made a party.

Respondent’s Contentions

The respondent contended that the appeal is not maintainable as the impugned order is not a judgment under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent, 1865 and is not conclusively decided. The respondent contended that the Court has power to order for CBI enquiry if it find the sufficient cause. The respondent further contended that they get how the documents which were supposed to be in the exclusive custody of the State Election Commission were annexed with the appeal.

Moot Point

  1. What are the circumstances in which a CBI enquiry may be justifiably directed by the Court?

  2. Whether or not the facts of the present case portray or depict one of such circumstances?

Court’s Observation and Verdict

The Court identified the questions which need to be examined on the next date of hearing. The Court passed an interim order directing the CBI to not take any steps in terms of the impugned order dated 21-06-2023 i.e., till the final order.

[District Magistrate of Howrah v. Kashmira Begam Khan, 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 1815, order dated 23-06-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Kalyan Bandopadhyay, Sr. Adv, Mr. Sirsanya Bandopadhyay, Mr. Shamim Ul Bari, Mr. Arka Kumar Nag, Counsel for the Appellants;

Mr. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Sr. Adv, Mr. Srijib Chakraborty, Mr. Sabyasachi Chatterjee, Mr. Sandipan Das, Mr. Sayon Banerjee, Mr. Badrul Karim, Mr. Kiron Sk. Mr. Dipankar Das, Counsel for the Respondents;

Mr. Kishore Dutta, Sr. Adv, Ms. Sonal Sinha, Mr. Sujit Gupta, Mr. Sayak Dutta, Mr. Soumen Chatterjee, Counsel for the Election Commission.

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