Kolkata: Calcutta High Court has stayed a single bench order directing the CBI to probe alleged flouting of rules in constructing a high rise in compound of the iconic Tripura House, a palace which belongs to the Deb Barman former royal family here, opining that the central agency may not be asked to investigate any and every matter.
The division bench presided by Justice Arijit Banerjee said that the Supreme Court has in many cases said that only in matters involving greater public or national interest, should the Central Bureau of Investigation be burdened with the task of investigation.
“In any and every matter, CBI may not be asked to act as an investigating agency,” the bench, also comprising Justice Subhendu Samanta, observed in its order on May 20.
It directed that operation of the single bench order directing CBI investigation and deposition of money by the owner and the developer of the new 22-storey building in a posh locality of the city will remain stayed till the next date of hearing on June 8.
Justice Amrita Sinha on May 19 directed an investigation by the CBI to unearth possible irregularities involved in obtaining approval of the building plan proposal at a Grade I heritage property.
Tripura House situated on Ballygunge Circular Road is owned by the family of the erstwhile Maharajas of the north-eastern state. Maintaining that the single bench ought not to have ordered the CBI to conduct an investigation, the division bench, on an appeal by Pradyut Deb Barman, son of the former Maharaja directed the agency not to take any steps in terms of the order till the next date of hearing.
“Whether at all an investigation is required in the matter and if so, then through which agency, we shall consider on the next date,” the court said. Holding that the direction on the owner and the developer to deposit Rs 22 crore each also requires examination, the bench said that the basis on which the said figure was arrived at by the Judge is not mentioned in the order.
The bench, however, said that its view that CBI ought not to have been directed to act as investigating agency is only a prima facie view and will not have any bearing at the final hearing.
Justice Amrita Sinha directed the CBI to conduct an enquiry into the entire matter, observing, The Court feels is expedient to direct investigation in the matter to unearth the money trail involved in obtaining the approval of the plan proposal for making construction over a Grade I heritage property.
Justice Sinha imposed a penalty of Rs 44 crores on the owner and developer of the building, with each being asked to pay Rs 22 crores, for felling a large number of trees within the premises and directed that the funds be used for planting saplings in the city and the Sundarbans.
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