New Delhi: Supreme Court today stayed trial court proceedings in Gorkha leader Madan Tamang murder case in West Bengal in the wake of allegation that CBI repeatedly failed to appear in court to oppose bail plea of the accused. "The proceedings before the trial court (Darjeeling) will be stayed," a bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and justices F M I Kalifulla and Vikramajit Sen said.
The bench also sought response of the Centre and West Bengal Government on a plea of Bharati Tamang, wife of slain leader Madan Tamang, seeking handing over of the probe from CBI to Special Investigating Team (SIT) or the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
It also sought response within three weeks from CBI on the allegation that due to non-appearance of the agency in the trial court, the accused were granted bail on different occasions.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Bharati, also sought shifting of the trial to a court in neighbouring Assam. While seeking stay of the proceedings in the trial court, he said it was necessary as the case is in the stage of framing of charges. "Trial court is in haste in framing the charges," he submitted and claimed that due to non-appearance of the CBI, trial court in its order has been recording wrong information while granting bail to the accused who have allegedly misrepresented the facts.
Tamang, who was the President of All India Gorkha League, was killed on May 21, 2010 in Darjeeling allegedly by "a group of about four hundred supporters of Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) carrying deadly arms" when he was overseeing preparations for a public meeting.
Tamang's wife had earlier also brought the issue of probe before the apex court which on December 3, 2012, had sought response from the Centre and West Bengal government. She had alleged that investigation by state police and CBI was "tainted, biased and malafide".
Bharati, in her plea, had also sought quashing of the charge sheets filed by the CID and the CBI on August 30, 2010 and August 20, 2011 respectively, saying "investigation has suppressed vital information and evidence whilst submitting both the charge sheet and the supplementary chargesheet in order to exclude the same from the materials to be used in prosecution of the co-conspirators".
She had also sought a direction from the apex court to appoint "an independent Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising of senior officers headed by a competent person or authority of impeccable credentials" to conduct a fresh probe into the conspiracy and murder of Tamang on May 21, 2010 at Darjeeling.
Bharati also said that, "Despite handing over of investigation to the CBI, the same yielded the arraignment of only one more accused whilst keeping quiet about the role of the main persons against whom allegations had been levelled and against whom substantial evidence is already forthcoming."
She has accused the Centre and the state of trying to protect top leaders of GJMM whom she has arraigned as parties. GJMM members, who have been made parties in the case, hold posts in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), a semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling hills in West Bengal, the petition said.
GJMM members, who have been accused by Bharati as co-conspirators in the murder, are Bimal Gurung the Chief Executive and Councillor of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, Asha Gurung the Executive Councillor in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, Roshan Giri, the Executive Councillor of Education in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and 12 others.
On September 26, 2012, the Calcutta High Court had granted bail to four persons, Swadesh Rai Majhi, Sipen Maley, Sumi Rai and Puran Rai, who are accused in case. Prime accused Nicole Tamang, a GJMM central committee member, fled from CID custody following his arrest on August 15, 2012 from a hideout at Bijonbari in Darjeeling. He escaped from CID custody in Pintail village near Siliguri on August 21 last year.
Bharati has alleged in her plea that Nicole was arrested just before the seventh round of talks between the Centre, West Bengal Government and the GJMM and right after the conference, he had escaped from custody.
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Updated Date: Jul 15, 2013 17:52:05 IST