Tagore Nobel theft: HC comes down heavily on CBI
Kolkata: The Calcutta high court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for its reluctance to hand over the investigation of the Rabindra Nath Tagore's Nobel theft to a state government agency.
The CBI had closed its own probe of the theft way back in 2009. A division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwari and Justice Harish Tandon directed the central investigating agency to submit an affidavit within a week stating reasons for its unwillingness to hand over the probe. The directions of the Calcutta high court came while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking an order from the court to transfer the probe into the theft of the medal from a museum of Viswa Bharati University at Santiniketan in 2004 to the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The division Bench further directed the petitioner to file an affidavit in reply within another week after the CBI's submission and said that the matter will be heard again in the third week of November.
Regarding the Nobel medallion as a 'national treasure', the Bench asserted that an investigation to recover the lost medallion is always welcome. The Bench asked CBI counsel Ashraf Ali as to why the agency is averse to handing over the probe to another agency even when it has failed to make any breakthrough in the case and had closed the probe. Ali submitted that the state had given consent to a CBI investigation and once granted, the permission cannot be withdrawn. He further said that as the state government claimed to have got some fresh leads in the case it should share the same with the CBI and if it is found to be consequential, the case might be reopened. He prayed that the CBI should be allowed to file an affidavit on the matter.
Appearing for the state, Advocate General Kishore Dutta informed the Court that though the CBI had closed investigation into the matter, it was refusing to hand over the probe to a state agency. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had last year said the state government was willing to take up the investigation for recovering the stolen medal which was awarded to Tagore in 1913. The CBI had closed its investigation for the first time in 2007 as it was unable to make any breakthrough. The agency reopened the case in 2008 after criticism from different quarters closed it again in 2009.