Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Calcutta HC comes down hard on Mamata govt: NDTV, Times Now tone it down

(Despite the toning down by the Lutyens Media—NDTV, Times Now etc—the observation by the Calcutta High Court today against the Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal on post-poll violence is pretty damning. Here is the verdict in detail). 

Calcutta High Court has made scathing remarks against the Mamata Banerjee led government today in its judgment running into 124 pages in which it has handed over all serious cases involving murder and crimes against women to CBI.

Justice IP Mukerjee in his observations has specifically stated that it is very serious that the state has not responded to the alleged offences of murder and rape tabulated. He has earmarked that these cases may well be of post poll violence and they may be in usual course of affairs but the state should have responded to these allegations, which it did not.

“What is very serious is that the state has not responded to the alleged offences of murder and rape tabulated as referred to in the judgment of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice (Acting). The offences are grievous, serious and heinous. It may be as a result of post poll violence. It may well be in the usual course of affairs.”

While echoing the expectation of the state of West Bengal, the Judge has highlighted that these cases require serious investigation. and that if this expectation is fulfilled, their faith in the rule of law and in the justice delivery system will be maintained and enhanced.

“Allegations have been made against the state alleging apathy towards investigation of these crimes.To dispel any doubt in the mind of the general people regarding fairness of the state machinery, the CBI should be entrusted with investigation of those specified offences regarding murder and rape under the supervision of the court.,” said Justice IP Mukerjee.

He added that in these type of cases, it does not matter, which agency makes the investigation, the state or the CBI.

“If the offence is established, the wrong doers have to be brought to justice. Only then will the entire system be seen as fair, just and transparent by the ordinary people,” he stated.

It is pertinent to note that before the Calcutta High Court, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued for the DGP of police (WB) that there were many discrepancies in the complaints which were filed before NHRC, vehemently stating that they seemed “readymade” and “manufactured”.

Singhvi added that many translations of complaints and statements were incorrect as well, alleging incompetency of the NHRC’s Committee, urging that there were no deaths due to post poll violence as alleged.

He further stated that the post poll violence was alleged and that it was impossible for the violence to continue for an indefinite period, and if it really did, how one could designate what would be designated as post poll violence and what could not be?

Advocate Priyanka Tibrewal had refuted this submission of Singhvi. She had said that the fact that there was no reinstatement of those people who were ousted at behest of TMC goons from their villages till date only reiterated that the violence was post-poll and political.

Advocate J Sai Deepak had called the argument of Singhvi,  that there were no deaths in the post-poll violence that was unleashed in the state as “grossly insensitive”.

He had further argued that the cases concerning post-poll violence point to connivance of the state’s machinery and basis what he argued earlier, stated that the petitioners had no faith in the state machinery whatsoever.

Pronouncing the verdict in West Bengal Post Poll Violence matter, the Calcutta High Court today held that all cases as per report of committee where allegations are murder, crimes against women to be referred to CBI for investigation.

For all other cases, a Special Investigation Team is constituted, comprising West Bengal IPS officers.
To be headed by Suman Bala Sahu and to consist of Suman Mitra and Ranvir Kumar.

The SIT will be entitled to take assistance of any agency for fair investigation and will be monitored by an SC retired judge.

The autopsy report of Abhijeet Sarkar and other sealed cover documents are to be handed over to the CBI. Any other documents to be handed over to the SIT.

The court has notably directed for the State of West Bengal to pay compensation to victims of crime.

CBI & SIT have further been directed to submit status report within 6 weeks, and the State of West Bengal has been ordered to commit cooperation with CBI and other authorities. 

Earlier before the Bench, the State had made brief submissions whereby Kapil Sibal had argued that the NHRC Committee members are biased. He said that the NHRC ‘s committee had travelled way beyond its scope to recommend that the cases should be handed over the CBI, where in fact its only job was to collate data. 

Sibal had also argued that the Committee’s procedures were to be governed by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1995 and that the absence of such procedural aspects was a gross violation of established legal tenets.

Advocate J Sai Deepak appearing for petitioner(s) & refuted this argument, stating that the procedure which was actually applicable to the Committee was carved out in an order of the Court itself. “Nonetheless”, he argued, “technicalities could not overpower dispensation of justice”. 

(This piece has been reproduced with gratitude from lawbeat.in and with additional inputs). 

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