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Calcutta HC orders CBI, SIT probe in West Bengal poll violence

Orders submission of status reports within six weeks

The Calcutta High Court has directed an investigation into all alleged cases of heinous crimes such as rape and murder in connection with alleged violence following the Assembly election in West Bengal. The investigation will be carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). For the post-poll violence cases, the HC constituted a special investigation team (SIT) of three senior IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre.

The order to the effect was given by a five-judge bench after allegations of post poll violence were brought before it in the form of several writ petitions. The court had also urged a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) committee to look into the allegations, and the panel submitted a report to the court on July 13 suggesting a CBI probe into the matter.

The order issued by the bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal said “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 Committee, NHRC, any other commission or authority and the state shall immediately hand over the entire record of the cases entrusted to the CBI for investigation. The order made it clear that the CBI probe shall be a court-monitored investigation.

The Bench emphasized that the working of the SIT shall be “overviewed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, for which separate order shall be passed. The court also directed that immediate action be taken by the State to pay compensation to the victims. It also directed the CBI and the SIT to submit status reports within six weeks.

Justice Bindal wrote in the order “In our opinion, the heinous crime such as murder and rape deserve to be probed by an independent agency. It is for this reason that in a number of cases, the State had failed to register the FIRs and opined the same to be not the cases of murder. This shows a pre-determined mind to take the investigation into a particular direction. Under such circumstances, the investigation by an independent agency will inspire confidence to all concerned,”.

While the verdict was unanimous, Justices Mukherjee and Soumen Sen expressed certain reservations over the NHRC committee recommendations. “The NHRC committee had no jurisdiction to make any recommendation or to express any opinion. We did not vest them with that power,” Justice Mukherjee wrote in his order. Justice Soumen Sen was also critical of the remarks made by the NHRC against politicians and police officers. “I am of the view that such remarks and recommendations were uncalled for and to that extent the committee has transgressed its limits,” he wrote.

While the BJP leadership has welcomed the court order, the Trinamool Congress leaders expressed their disappointment. It has been reliably learnt that TC may move the Supreme Court against the order.

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