CBI told to probe Bengal post-poll result crimes
Calcutta High Court on Thursday asked the Bengal government to hand over to the CBI investigations into alleged murders, unnatural deaths and rapes that had taken place following publication of Assembly poll results on May 2.
The five-judge bench of the court also formed a three-member Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe alleged post-May 2 incidents of violence — except murders, unnatural deaths and rapes.
A retired Supreme Court judge will monitor the probe conducted by the SIT that will have Calcutta police commissioner Somen Mitra and two senior police officers — Suman Bala Sahoo and Ranabir Kumar.
The division bench presided over by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and consisting of Justice I.P. Mukerji, Justice Harish Tandon, Justice Subrata Talukdar and Justice Soumen Sen delivered the 124-page unanimous order.
The court directed the state government to immediately process applications for compensation to victims of the post-poll violence.
The bench accepted the report of the committee the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had set up on the direction of the court to probe the post-poll violence. The committee had submitted the report to the court on July 13 directing that the probe be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Sources in the state legal team said the Bengal government would move a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court to challenge the high court order as it was based on the “biased report” of the NHRC panel.
According to the NHRC committee, 1,979 cases of post-poll violence had taken place in Bengal and 124 of those incidents were “heinous” and included criminal acts like murder, unnatural death and
The report marked out 72 of the 124 cases as “heinous” crimes that included murders and unnatural deaths, while there were 52 cases of rape.
Specifying the jurisdiction of the CBI’s probe, the court said the central agency would investigate 124 “heinous” cases, while the remaining 1,855 incidents would be looked into by the SIT.
The bench asked both the CBI and the SIT to file status reports before the court on October 4. The court also made it clear that it would monitor the investigations.
Thursday’s order has its genesis in two separate PILs moved by aggrieved parties before the high court in mid-May seeking judicial intervention in the post-poll violence.
A couple of days after Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress had emerged winner for the third consecutive time, the BJP and other parties, including the CPM and the Congress, complained of their workers being attacked and properties destroyed at various places in the state.
When the case came up for hearing before a larger bench of the high court, the state government had argued that the incidents of violence had taken place between May 2 and 5 when the administration was under the control of the Election Commission. It further argued that after Mamata had taken over as chief minister on May 5, things were brought under control.
The petitioners, however, continued to claim that post-poll clashes were still on and thousands of workers of Opposition parties had been rendered homeless and properties looted.
Following the prayer, the five-judge bench ordered the NHRC to constitute a committee and probe into the cases of violence. Accordingly, an eight-member committee was formed and it filed its report before the court on July 13.
The Bengal government, in an affidavit submitted to the court, rejected the allegations made by the committee and described them as “sweeping homilies, absurd, and false”. The government also questioned the panel’s formation and accused it of being biased against Bengal’s ruling dispensation.
“I state that the members of the Committee have close association with the Bhartiya Janta Party and/or the Central Government,” the affidavit filed on July 26 against the NHRC report said.
Last month, the chief minister had termed the NHRC’s committee as “a great liar” and accused it of distorting facts.