Illegal mining in Bengal: SC to examine CBI’s jurisdiction in ‘railway areas’ without state consent



The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea to examine if the Central Bureau of Investigation can exercise its jurisdiction over railway areas without the consent of the state government, Live Law reported. The court sought responses from the Centre and the investigation agency in the matter.

The plea was filed by Anup Majee, the director of a company engaged in purchase and sale of the dry fuel, reported PTI. Majee is an accused in a case of alleged illegal coal trading in the Asansol-Raniganj belt of West Bengal.

Majee’s case assumes significance as it comes at a time when the CBI has issued summons to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee in connection with the alleged coal pilferage case. The agency has asked his wife and sister-in-law to join the investigation.

As far as Majee’s plea is concerned, on February 12, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court had granted permission to the CBI to investigate the matter within West Bengal. The verdict had stayed an earlier decision of a single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court itself, which had restricted the powers of the CBI to carry out probe within “railway areas” situated in West Bengal, as covered by definition of “railway” in the Railways Act of 1989, according to Bar and Bench.

Majee had then challenged the Calcutta High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court, contending that that the central probe agency lacked jurisdiction to lodge a First Information Report in the case after the withdrawal of general consent by the West Bengal government in 2018, PTI reported.

Appearing for Majee, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi argued that the High Court order was passed without jurisdiction and sought protection against coercive action against Majee, Live Law reported.

Meanwhile, appearing for the state of West Bengal, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that he supported the contention of Majee on the question of law as there was no consent given to the CBI to investigate the case. He, however, argued that the CBI will have jurisdiction since Railways was a Central subject.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah held that both the state of West Bengal and petitioner were aggrieved and notices were needed to be issued to CBI and the concerned parties to hear the matter at length. However, it denied granting any interim relief to Majee.

The matter will next be heard on March 1.



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