West Bengal post-poll violence: Calcutta High Court orders court-monitored probe by CBI, SIT

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Updated: August 19, 2021 2:54 PM

The Calcutta High Court had earlier ordered the NHRC chairman to constitute an inquiry committee to probe accusations of human rights violations during the post-poll violence in West Bengal.

West Bengal Post Poll violenceWest Bengal Post-poll violence: Hearing in the matter was concluded on August 3 and the order was reserved by the court.

The Calcutta High Court today ordered a court-monitored CBI probe into allegations of human rights violations, including murder and crime against women, rape in connection with the West Bengal post-poll violence cases. The High Court has entrusted all other cases to SIT for investigation. The SIT will also be monitored by the court, reported Bar and Bench. The HC also directed the CBI and the SIT to submit their reports within six weeks. It asked the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government to extend all cooperation to investigating teams of the CBI and the SIT.

In its verdict, the Calcutta High Court also noted that the West Bengal government’s argument holding the Election Commission responsible for the post-poll violence by saying that police were under EC’s control during election deserves to be rejected outrightly. It said that police remains under EC’s control during polls to ensure free and fair elections and it does not mean that the police will stop discharging its normal duties of controlling law and order situation.

The hearing in the matter concluded on August 3 and the order was reserved by the High Court. The verdict was delivered by a five-judge bench presided over by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and comprising justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar.

When the bench hearing the case assembled today, acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal said that there are different judgements but all are concurring. Several PILs were filed before the court alleging that people were assaulted, made to flee homes and their properties were destroyed in the post-poll violence and had sought an impartial probe into these allegations.

The bench had earlier ordered the NHRC to constitute an inquiry committee and probe the accusations of human rights violations due to post-poll violence. The NHRC had recommended handing over the investigation in grievous crimes like rape and murder to the CBI and said that the cases should be tried outside the state. The court has also accepted the NHRC committee report recommending a court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) probe into all other cases and for adjudication, there should be fast track courts, special public prosecutors and a witness protection scheme.

On the other hand, the Mamata Banerjee government had opposed the NHRC report. Opposing the findings and recommendations of the NHRC committee report, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the West Bengal DGP, had claimed that the report was erroneous and biased. The state also claimed that a few members of the NHRC committee had links with the opposition BJP and had requested the court that the panel’s recommendations be rejected.

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