Legal Battle Ensues as CBI Pursues Custody of Sheikh Shahjahan: A Clash of Federalism in Bengal

By manish198832 Mar 6, 2024

Legal Battle Ensues as CBI

Legal Battle-In a dramatic escalation of the ongoing feud between the Bengal police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over the custody of Sandeshkhali strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, the Calcutta High Court has intervened, setting a new deadline for the transfer of Shahjahan’s custody to the central agency. This development comes amidst a backdrop of political tension and legal wrangling, as both sides assert their authority in a case that has captured national attention.

Legal Battle

Legal Battle-On the bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, the High Court issued a directive for Bengal police to hand over Shahjahan’s custody to the CBI by 4:15 pm today. This mandate follows a previous order from the High Court, which had instructed the Bengal police to transfer Shahjahan to the CBI by 4:30 pm yesterday. However, the situation took a complicated turn when the Mamata Banerjee government contested the ruling in the Supreme Court, seeking an urgent hearing. Despite their efforts, the Supreme Court declined the plea, leaving the High Court’s order intact.

Legal Battle-The Bengal government has vehemently opposed the High Court’s directive, arguing that it undermines the principles of federalism. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the state government, criticized the urgency of the interim order, stating, “They wanted overnight compliance in an interim order.” In response to the state’s concerns, a bench led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna advised the government to approach Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud for the listing of their petition.

Legal Battle-Emphasizing the seriousness of its order, the High Court underscored that there was no stay issued by the Supreme Court, thereby reiterating the necessity for Shahjahan’s prompt handover to the CBI. Additionally, the High Court issued a notice of contempt and instructed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bengal police to file an affidavit within two weeks, further intensifying the legal pressure on the state authorities.

At the heart of this legal and political maelstrom lies Sheikh Shahjahan, a figure embroiled in controversy and allegations of misconduct in Sandeshkhali island, situated in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. Accusations of harassment, land grab, and extortion have surrounded Shahjahan and his associates, sparking outrage among residents of the island.

Shahjahan first garnered widespread attention in January when an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team encountered a violent mob attack during a raid on his properties. Following this incident, Shahjahan evaded authorities for 52 days before being apprehended by the Bengal police. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has accused the Trinamool Congress of shielding Shahjahan, insists that only an investigation by central agencies can deliver justice to the people of Sandeshkhali.

In response to mounting pressure, the Trinamool Congress expelled Shahjahan for a period of six years. However, the party has rebuffed BJP’s allegations, questioning the inability of central agencies to arrest Shahjahan earlier.

As the legal battle rages on, the fate of Sheikh Shahjahan remains uncertain, while the clash between state and central authorities underscores broader tensions between federalism and centralization in India’s political landscape.

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