Mumbai: Miffed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's unilateral decision allowing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the Elgar Parishad case, Nationalist Congress Party has strongly pressed for the formation of a special investigation team (SIT) to conduct a parallel inquiry into the case.
At a meeting chaired by NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was asked to seek legal opinion and launch an inquiry under Section 10 of the National Investigation Act, 2019. Thereafter, the home ministry, through executive decision, can form an SIT and launch the probe.
Deshmukh said he will speak to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and take a decision. However, NCP ministers were aggressive in their demand that the state government exercise its power under Section 10 and conduct an inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon violence and the Elgar Parishad case.
Section 10 of the National Investigation Act 2019 reads: “Power of State Government to investigate Scheduled Offences — Save as otherwise provided.
In this Act, nothing contained in this Act shall affect the powers of the State Government to investigate and prosecute any Scheduled Offence or other offences under any law for the time being in force.”
NCP minister, who did not want to be identified, told FPJ: “The state government may not probe Scheduled Offences but it can establish an SIT to inquire into the actions of the Pune police.”
Pawar on December 21 last year and thereafter had expressed strong displeasure over the manner in which the Pune police had arrested the nine activists and demanded suspension of the officers concerned.
Senior advocate Nilesh Pawaskar said as far as the investigation of Scheduled Offence (as mentioned in the Schedule of Act) is concerned, the NIA can probe it; but how the investigation is carried out is clearly out of NIA's control.
“The State has every right to probe the conduct of the investigating officers. In the present case, if the officers have investigated the case in an erroneous way, then the state government is clearly authorised to probe and come to a legitimate conclusion,” he noted.
NCP spokesman and Minister of Minority Affair Nawab Malik said, “In Section 10 of the NIA Act, there is a provision that the state government can conduct a parallel inquiry. Our Home Minister will take a decision soon, on forming the SIT.”
On January 1, 2018, violence had erupted during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima Koregaon battle. One person lost his life while several others were injured in the incident. The police had filed 58 cases against 162 people.
A Sessions Court on February 14 passed an order in the Bhima Koregaon case, transferring all records and further proceedings of the case to Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, Mumbai.