The Supreme Court has granted interim protection from arrest to TMC leader Sheikh Sufiyan in connection to a CBI investigation in the alleged murder of BJP worker Debabrata Maity. Sufiyan was the poll agent of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram during the 2021 assembly election in the state.
The apex court’s directive comes in response to a special petition filed by the TMC leader challenging a Calcutta High Court order rejecting his anticipatory bail in the murder case. A bench comprising Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai noted, “Learned counsel for the state is directed to file statement(s) recorded under Section 164 CrPC. Learned counsel for the petitioner and the complainant are permitted to file additional documents, if any, before the next date of hearing. List on January 31. There shall be stay of arrest of the petitioner in the meanwhile.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was representing the State before the Supreme Court and senior Advocate Kapil Sibal represented the petitioner. SG Mehta informed the Court that the Calcutta High Court passed the order rejecting his anticipatory bail on November 29, and that Sufiyan has managed to avert arrest for two months. Advocate Sibal countered that a supplementary charge sheet has been filed, in which his client has not been named.
Hearing the arguments, Justice Nageswara Rao said, “We are granting protection for a week. We want to see the entire record before admitting your petition, and we will proceed only after that. We are just asking the State to place on record the papers which are relevant for us to hear all of you later.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued, “It is a very serious offence. We will satisfy your Lordships. He is quite powerful. This will have its own repercussions.” The Bench responded that politics should not be brought into the case.
Sheikh Sufiyan is the prime accused in the murder of BJP worker Debabrata Maity. The BJP member was allegedly attacked by Trinamool Congress goons in Nandigram a day after the results of the 2021 assembly polls were declared in West Bengal and Mamata Banerjee lost to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. The CBI had summoned Sufiyan in September last year in connection with his alleged involvement in the murder.
Earlier, the Calcutta High Court had passed an impugned order rejecting Sufiyan anticipatory bail plea. “Considering the gravity of the offence and considering the materials in the case diary and considering the statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, implicating the petitioner in the incident and considering the fact that the CBI is conducting the investigation pursuant to the order passed by the Full Bench and considering the fact that the investigations are yet to be concluded, we are unable to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner,” the High Court has stated.