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regular-article-logo Monday, 20 May 2024

‘Have to own moral responsibility’: Calcutta High Court raps Bengal government over Sandeshkhali

'According to the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), Bengal stands Number One in safety of women; and if even one affidavit is proven right, the statistics falls, the public image falls, the opinion falls'

Tapas Ghosh Calcutta Published 05.04.24, 06:00 AM
Calcutta High Court.

Calcutta High Court. File Photo.

The chief justice of Calcutta High Court on Thursday said that if even one per cent of the alleged crimes against women in Sandeshkhali proved true, the North 24-Parganas administration and the state’s ruling dispensation must shoulder moral responsibility.

“The entire district administration and the ruling dispensation have to own moral responsibility… cent per cent responsibility,” Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam said at the head of a division bench that also included Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya.

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The bench was hearing a suo motu motion on the alleged crimes against women and land-grab in Sandeshkhali, as well as petitions seeking CBI investigation of 43 such cases against Trinamul strongman Sheikh Shahjahan.

Petitioner-lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal — a BJP politician — submitted a compilation
of what she said was about a hundred affidavits from alleged victims of sexual assault, land-grab and various kinds of violence.

“According to the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), Bengal stands Number One in safety of women; and if even one affidavit is proven right, the statistics falls, the public image falls, the opinion falls,” the chief justice said. “If it falls and crumbles, one cannot resurrect it.”

Tibrewal told the court she had gone to Sandeshkhali over three weekends, accompanied by other lawyers and notaries, to record the affidavits she had submitted. She requested that a committee be set up to look into the complaints and the payment of compensation to the victims.

Petitioner-advocate Susmita Saha Dutta submitted a report of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on the alleged atrocities on women in Sandeshkhali. She said she had on the commission’s invitation visited Sandeshkhali along with its members.

Advocate Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee, the court-appointed amicus curiae, too filed a report on the allegations of sexual crimes and land-grab.

Opposing the pleas for a handover of the investigations to the CBI, state advocate-general Kishore Dutta said the central agencies had lost their credibility. He said these agencies had achieved poor conviction rates in cases they had probed in Bengal over the past 10 years.

The Enforcement Directorate counsel accused the state of non-cooperation.

Dutta said the court must be convinced that those approaching it had no personal interest in the matter. He asked that Bengal police be allowed to probe the complaints that had come to light.

The bench reserved its judgment on the petitions and told the state government to inform it about the status of these cases.

“The court will take its decision only after receiving the status reports from the state,” the bench said and adjourned the matter.

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