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The Supreme Court has restrained the CBI from initiating criminal proceedings in any court against West Bengal police officials for the March 14 police firing in Nandigram in which 14 persons were killed.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice R V Raveendran and Justice J M Panchal asked the investigation agency not to file a chargesheet against the police personnel accused of indiscriminate firing on the mob. But the CBI can go ahead with the inquiry as ordered by the Calcutta High Court, the bench said. Solicitor General G E Vahanvati appearing for the CBI informed the court that the investigation agency will submit its report to the high court.

The court also issued notice to Association for Protection for Democratic Rights, an NGO, and other respondents on whose petition the high court had passed its order.

The WB government had challenged the November 16 order of the Calcutta HC indicting it for the “unjustified” firing on innocent people in Nandigram. The apex court, however, took objection to the plea of the state that the firing at the crowd in Nandigram was not indiscriminate. “Fourteen persons died and 160 injured and you call it a discriminate firing,” asked justice Raveendran?

Senior counsel K K Venugopal on behalf of state was objecting to the observations made by the HC. The court also said the apprehension of the HC observations will influence the inquiry was not justified. “You (state government) are assuming that the CBI is going to do something else,” said the apex court. The HC has only asked the investigating agency to identify victims, offenders and find out whether any crime was committed against an individual, said Justice Raveendran. The apex court also showed displeasure over the state’s objection to HC direction on payment of compensation to victims.

Venugopal said the state was not seeking a stay of the CBI inquiry but was aggrieved by the HC order quashing Regulation 115 (B) of Police Rule which lays down the guidelines for dealing with mob and use of lethal weapon to control it.

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