The CBI today sought an arrest warrant against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha and 20 others from a city court in connection with the Madan Tamang murder case. The CBI counsel prayed to the chief judge of the City Sessions Court Kundan Kumar Kumai that the arrest warrant be issued against the 22 accused, who were absent at today’s hearing. Out of the 48 accused in the case against whom CBI has prayed sought framing of charges for the murder of All India Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang in the heart of Darjeeling in 2011, 26 accused were present. The Calcutta High Court had on July 19 asked all the accused against whom CBI has sought framing of charges to be present before the court of the chief judge of City Sessions Court, which had fixed today for commencement of hearing. A division bench presided over by acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre had directed the trial court to hold day-to-day hearing and conclude framing of charges by August 17. Noting that several accused were not present during the hearing for framing of charges on earlier occasions also, the division bench had directed the CBI to ensure their presence in court. Among the 26 accused present before the court today were former GJM MLA Harka Bahadur Chetri, Captain Ramesh Allay and Rabin Subba. Apart from Bimal Gurung, senior GJM leaders Asha Gurung, Roshan Giri, Binay Tamang and Devendra Sharma were among those absent. Those accused who were absent in the court made written prayer before the court seeking to be represented by their lawyers.
CBI counsel Arun Bhagat opposed the prayers, submitting that the high court had expressly ordered their presence before the trial court for the hearing. He sought arrest warrants against them for being absent. Citing the high court’s noting that CBI did not oppose the prayers of the accused to be represented by their lawyers during earlier hearings, the CBI counsel submitted that he had vehemently raised objection, but it was not recorded.
Claiming that it led to the adverse noting by the high court, Bhagat prayed before the Chief Sessions Judge that his opposition on earlier occasions be recorded. Debasish Roy, counsel for Bimal Gurung, Asha and some other accused claimed that the notice for appearance before the court was not served at the homes of the these persons and was pasted in marketplaces.
Bhagat submitted that CBI had tried its best to communicate the high court order through SMS, mail or through messenger, but many were not found at their addresses and as such the officials had to paste the notice on the walls of their houses.
The CBI counsel submitted that order be passed on the applications of the accused persons for not being personally present before commencement of hearing on framing of charges. The judge, after hearing all the parties, adjourned the matter till tomorrow.