Gorkhaland Agitation: Supreme Court rejects Bimal Gurung’s plea seeking transfer of cases to independent agency

Supreme Court: In the matter relating to Gorkhaland agitation, the bench of Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan refused to transfer of investigation of all First Information Reports lodged against Bimal Gurung, the President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and other members of GJM, to any independent investigation agency. The Court said:

“The offences alleged in the cases are serious offences including offences under Section 121, 121A, 153A and offences under Unlawful Act, 1967 as well as offences under Section 307, 302 IPC etc. Transfer of investigation of such large number of cases enmass is neither practicable nor justified.”

The Court noticed that the present case is a case where the petitioner as Leader of GJM is a spare heading an agitation against the State demanding a separate State-hood. F.I.R. registered at the instance of police leading serious offences involving petitioner and supporters of GJM, cannot be discarded on the plea that it was police, who has roped in the petitioner and other supporters by lodging the F.I.R. No bias or mala fide has been pleaded against any individual State functionary or police officer nor any such person has been impleaded in the writ petition so as to consider the allegation of bias. In the present case, neither there is any pleading nor any material to come to a conclusion that State functionaries including police functionaries are biased against the petitioner.

The bench said:

“The State is obliged to maintain law and order and to protect live and property of the citizens. It has to take necessary steps to contain such agitation and restore the peace.”

On the allegation that the State Police had destructed the property itself, the Court said that it cannot be imagined that State Police of West Bengal itself has destructed the property including Police vehicles only for the purpose of foisting cases against the petitioner and its supporters. Deaths of several persons which included Police personnel is admitted to by both the parties.

It was, hence, held that although as a principle, there is no fetter on an accused to move a Court of Law for transfer of investigation, but the present case cannot be said to be a case of individual’s persecution by the State authority.

Background of the Case:

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Act, 2011 was enacted to provide for the establishment of a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration for the region comprising the three sub-divisions, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and some mouzas of Siliguri subdivision in the district of Darjeeling and for certain matters incidental thereto. The agitation in question that arose after the Minister of Education, Government of West Bengal in a press conference stated that Bengali would be compulsory in all schools in West Bengal. The Gorkhas viewed this as an encroachment on their language, i.e. Nepali/Gorkhali. [Bimal Gurung v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 233, decided on 16.03.2018]

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