Calcutta HC orders CBI, SIT probes in post-poll violence cases

Kolkata, Aug 19 (PTI): Observing that there are “definite and proved” allegations that complaints of the victims of violence in the aftermath of the West Bengal assembly polls were not even registered, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered a CBI investigation in all alleged cases of heinous crimes like rape and murder, while accepting the recommendations of an NHRC panel.
A five-judge bench, passing a unanimous judgement on a batch of PILs seeking an independent probe into incidents of alleged violence after the polls which the ruling TMC won by an overwhelming majority, also ordered constitution of an SIT to probe all other cases.
The SIT will include Suman Bala Sahoo, Soumen Mitra and Ranveer Kumar, all IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre.
“All the cases where, as per the report of the Committee, the allegations are about murder of a person and crime against women regarding rape/attempt to rape, shall be referred to CBI for investigation,” the bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar, ordered.
It directed the NHRC committee, constituted by its chairman on a direction by the five-judge bench, and any other commission or authority and the state to immediately hand over the records of the cases to the CBI to carry forward the probe.
The bench will monitor the investigations by both the CBI and the SIT and asked the two agencies to submit status reports to the court within six weeks.
It said that the working of the SIT will be overseen by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court for which a separate order will be passed after obtaining his/her consent. In its ruling, the bench said heinous crimes such as murder and rape “deserve to be investigated by an independent agency which in the circumstances can only be Central Bureau of Investigation.”
The bench said the State failed to register FIRs even in some cases of alleged murder. “This shows pre-determined mind to take investigation into a particular direction.”
“Under such circumstances investigation by independent agency will inspire confidence to all concerned,” it noted.
It said allegations that the police had not registered a number of cases initially and that some were registered only after the court had intervened or the committee was constituted were found to be true.
It observed that the facts in relation to the allegations made in the PILs are “even more glaring” as the incidents are not isolated to one place in the state.
“Rather the violence which erupted after polls and declaration of results was state-wide. Number of persons had died. The women were raped. The house of certain persons who had not supported the party in power were demolished. Their other properties were damaged. Their belongings were looted including the chattels,” the court observed in its order.
The bench said there are allegations that the complainants are being threatened to withdraw the cases and a number of cases of murder being claimed as natural death without recording FIRs and conducting investigation according to the procedure established by law.
“There are definite and proved allegations that complaints filed by the victims of post-poll violence were not registered. Such types of incidents, even if isolated, are not good for healthy democracy,” the bench observed.
Noting that the West Bengal police have not properly responded to allegations of inaction and tried to downplay them, the bench said, “It certainly needs investigation by an independent agency.”
It said three months have lapsed since the matter was taken up by the court, but “no concrete action has been taken by the State, which could inspire confidence except filing affidavits and placing on record thousands of papers.”
The bench ordered the West Bengal government to pay compensation to the victims of crimes in accordance with the policy of the State, after due verification. The compensation amount will be directly transferred to their bank accounts.


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