Calcutta HC orders CBI probe in West Bengal post-poll violence
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the post-poll violence in West Bengal this May. The CBI probe will be monitored by the HC. The post-poll violence pertains to instances of murder, rape, and crime against women soon after the results of the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections were declared.
A five-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice IP Mukerji, Justice Harish Tandon, Justice Soumen Sen, and Justice Subrata Talukdar was hearing a batch of petitions alleging state inaction in the post-poll violence by members of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). The bench directed that the case should be immediately handed over to the CBI for investigation.
According to LiveLaw, the court observed, "The Committee, NHRC (National Human Rights Commission of India), any other Commission or Authority and the State shall immediately hand over entire record of the cases entrusted to the CBI for investigation." "It is made clear that it shall be the court-monitored investigation. Any obstruction in the course of investigation by anyone shall be viewed seriously."
On other criminal cases related to the post-poll violence, the HC ruled that they shall be investigated by a Special Investigation Team to be monitored by the court. The SIT will include IPS officers Suman Bala Sahoo, Soumen Mitra, and Ranbir Kumar. A retired judge of the Supreme Court—who will be mentioned in a later order—will monitor the working of the SIT.
The HC asked the CBI and the SIT to submit status reports within six weeks. The court directed the West Bengal government to immediately process the compensation promised to the victims of the post-poll violence. The court also rejected allegations of bias leveled by the state against the NHRC in its preliminary probe. The matter has been scheduled for further hearing on October 24.
Earlier, the HC had directed the NHRC to conduct a preliminary inquiry. The NHRC report had accused the TMC of turning affairs into the "law of ruler," instead of the "rule of law." The West Bengal government had dismissed the NHRC report as "politically motivated," however, the HC observed last month that the state was in "denial mode," accusing it of "appalling apathy."