Mamata Banerjee Government Suffers Setback As Calcutta HC Orders CBI and Court-Monitored Probes Into Post-Poll Violence In Bengal

by Swarajya Staff - Aug 19, 2021 01:37 PM +05:30 IST
Mamata Banerjee Government Suffers Setback As Calcutta HC Orders CBI and Court-Monitored Probes Into Post-Poll Violence In BengalWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
Snapshot
  • The West Bengal government should hand over all records of cases to the CBI for the investigation, the Calcutta high court said, adding that it will be a "court-monitored investigation" and that any obstruction during the course of the probe by anyone shall be "viewed seriously".

The Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI probe into murders and crimes against women in Bengal after the recent Assembly polls in the state and a court-monitored inquiry by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into all other cases of violence against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and supporters by Trinamool cadres.

This order on Thursday (19 August) forenoon by a five-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar is a big setback to the Mamata Banerjee government.

Banerjee and her party leaders have been vehemently denying allegations of post-poll violence and have been asserting that the state has not witnessed any violence or attacks on BJP workers ever since she took over as the chief minister for the third time in early May.

The Court order came on a clutch of petitions filed by BJP workers and others praying for impartial probes into the murders, rapes, attacks and displacement of thousands from their homes. The state police had also dismissed the widespread allegations of violence against BJP workers and supporters.

The Calcutta HC took cognisance of the complaints and ordered a probe by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The NHRC, in its report submitted on 15 July, had opined that the situation in the state is a manifestation of the 'Law of Ruler' instead of 'Rule of Law'. Highlighting the "pernicious politico-bureaucratic-criminal nexus" in the state, the NHRC recommended that cases involving offences such as rape and murder should be probed by the CBI and tried outside the state.

The NHRC also recommended that the other cases should be investigated by a court-monitored SIT along with other measures such as ex-gratia payment, rehabilitation, protection of women and actions against government servants who did not act on complaints filed by victims of violence.

In its fifty-page report, the NHRC said: "This was retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party". Arguing on behalf of the Trinamool, Kapil Sibal argued that the NHRC's report was "politically motivated" and that some members of the fact-finding committee had links to the BJP. Sibal had urged the HC to reject the NHRC report as the NHRC panel was "fraught with bias against the ruling dispensation".

The Calcutta High Court bench ruled that the allegations of bias against the NHRC panel "hold no merit" and rejected the Bengal government's arguments.

The HC bench also ordered the composition of the SIT. The team will comprise senior IPS officers Soumen Mitra, Suman Bala Sahoo and Ranbir Kumar, and their work will be monitored by a retired judge of the Supreme Court who will be named in a detailed order later, the Calcutta HC order said.

The West Bengal government should hand over all records of cases to the CBI for the investigation, the Calcutta high court said, adding that it will be a "court-monitored investigation" and that any obstruction during the course of the probe by anyone shall be "viewed seriously".

The CBI and the SIT have been directed to submit their reports within a period of six weeks to a division bench of the HC, which will hear the matter on 24 October.

The Trinamool has indicated that the Bengal government is thinking of appealing against the HC order to the Supreme Court. But legal experts say that the Supreme Court is not likely to provide the state government any relief.

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