The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered a CBI probe into grievous cases such as murder and rape in alleged post-poll violence in West Bengal.
A five-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal also ordered the formation of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe all other offences related to the alleged post-poll violence. The bench said both the investigations will be monitored by the court.
“All cases as per the report of NHRC committee where allegations are about murder of person or crime against women regarding rape or attempt to rape shall be referred to CBI for investigation,” the high court said, according to Bar and Bench. The court ordered the state to hand over all records of cases to the CBI so that it can carry out the investigation.
The SIT will consist of police officers from West Bengal. The three IPS officers are:
- Suman Bala Sahoo, Director General (Telecommunications)
- Soumen Mitra, Kolkata Police Commissioner
- Ranbir Kumar, ADG ranked officer
It directed the Central agency to file a report on its investigation in the next six weeks. The matter will be heard again on 4 October, 2021.
The working of SIT will be overviewed by a retired judge of Supreme Court on which a separate order will be passed later after taking the consent of the concerned judge, the court said as per Bar and Bench.
Three separate but concurring judgments were delivered by a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar.
A number of petitioners had moved the high court earlier this year, alleging widespread post-poll violence in the state after the Trinamool Congress’ return to power on 2 May.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had formed a committee at the direction of the high court to probe the various complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal. In its report, the panel indicted the Mamata Banerjee-led government and called for the investigation to be handed over to the CBI.
"The committee has recommended that grievous offences like murder, rape, etc should be handed over to the CBI for investigation and these cases should be tried outside the state," the report, submitted before the court on June 13, said.
First reactions: TMC unhappy with verdict while BJP welcomes it
The high court’s order has not gone down well with the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government, which is likely to move the Supreme Court.
"I’m unhappy with the verdict. If in every law and order matter, which is entirely within state government’s jurisdiction, the CBI comes in, it is a transgression on state’s right. I’m sure state government will judge the situation & take a decision to appeal to a higher court if necessary," TMC MP Saugata Roy told ANI.
Meanwhile, BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya welcomed the verdict.
Post-poll violence in West Bengal took place under the protection of the state government. The order by the Calcutta High Court has exposed the government. We welcome the court order: BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya
(File photo) pic.twitter.com/zJNQ1cG1XC
— ANI (@ANI) August 19, 2021
Even Union minister Anurag Thakur welcomed the verdict, saying, "In a democracy, everyone has the right to spread their ideology but no one's allowed to spread violence. There is no place for violence in democracy."
With inputs from PTI