Read Part 1 before continuing:
With mass level post poll violence, various Public Interest Litigations (PIL) were filed in Kolkata High Court, Guwahati High Court and Supreme Court of India. Out of these, most significant was the Kolkata High Court where a five member constitutional bench clubbed all the matters and heard them together. One of the most common prayers among these petitions was to seek an independent investigation in the post poll violence as the entire violence happened under the guise of state government. After initial hearings, Kolkata High school asked National Human Rights Commission to make a team and submit their investigation on the said allegations. NHRC in its report submitted that State Police did very less to stop the violence and didn’t even register over 60% FIR. In its report, NHRC further submitted before the court that it has a list of 1,979 complaints and 5,000 helpless victims. According to NHRC, most complaints were from Cooch Behar, Birbhum, Bardhaman, North 24 Parganas & Kolkata. It further submitted that, despite having sensitive issues including rape & murder, Percentage of accused arrested & accused in custody were abysmally low, showing ineptness of WB Police. Merely 1300 accused were nabbed by state police out of 9300 out of over 1000 got bail. NHRC while recommending CBI investigation and trial outside Bengal submitted that such violence was unprecedented anywhere while stating that it was Commission’s first time dealing with such a violent situation. NHRC also accused Bengal Police to be biased and uncooperative to them despite of them having Court’s order.
State government of Bengal defended their position by stating that administration and police were under the control of Election Commission when the said violence took place. Another stand of Bengal government was that NHRC gave a bias report against the government.
While rejecting the stands of Bengal government as baseless, Kolkata High Court accepted the report submitted by NHRC and passed an order for a Court monitored investigation by national agency, ‘Central Bureau of Investigation’ (CBI) for allegations pertaining to murder and rape. When a constitutional court (High Court & Supreme Court) orders CBI investigation to a case, they don’t require the consent of the state government which is otherwise compulsory. While ordering CBI probe, Kolkata High school also passed order to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) consisting of IPS officers of the West Bengal to probe all other matters during the said period excluding rapes and murders. Additionally, Kolkata High Court ordered both CBI and SIT to submit report within 6 weeks while ordering Mamata government to immediately process applications for compensation of victims.
Calling it a huge setback to the Mamata government, people on Twitter largely supported the judgment while few comparing CM to Taliban.
Important observations of the court while passing the verdict include:
- Heinous Crimes like Rape against Women were carried out in Post Poll violence.
- In 60% cases, FIRs were not filed
- Lukewarm response from State Govt on atrocities
Some scathing observations by Calcutta High Court on Post Poll Violence in Bengal.
➡️Heinous Crimes like Rape against Women were carried out in Post Poll violence.
➡️In 60% cases FIRs were not filed
— Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree) August 19, 2021
Calcutta High Court's order on West Bengal Post Poll Violence says that the State's evasive response in petitions regarding the violence led to the court entertaining multiple petitions in this regard. pic.twitter.com/uwZg0g8Hz4
— Live Adalat (@AdalatLive) August 19, 2021
SIT as per the order of Kolkata High Court has been formed constituting 3 IPS officers of Bengal who will be investigating matters related to post poll violence other than rape and murder. Verdict of Kolkata High Court is very important as it give away a message to ruling parties that violence in democracy will not be tolerated. Only thing to be seen now is whether Mamata government will accept the verdict of Kolkata High Court by giving away investigation of post poll violence to CBI & SIT and pay compensation to victims or will she challenge that in Supreme Court. Only time will tell!
Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com