On Thursday, August 19, the Calcutta High Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into allegations of rape, murder, and crimes against women that occurred after the West Bengal election, as per a report by NDTV.
Suman Bala Sahoo, an IPS officer of DG rank, and a special Bengal Police team led by the former shall investigate other criminal cases related to post-poll violence. The team will also include Kolkata Police Commissioner Soumen Mitra and senior officer, Ranbir Kumar. The court has directed both the teams to submit their reports in no more than six weeks. It also directed the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for other cases and ordered the state government to pay compensation to the victims of the violence, according to a report by Frontline.
"The working of the SIT shall be overviewed by a retired Hon'ble Judge of Hon'ble the Supreme Court, for which separate order shall be passed after taking his/her consent. His/her terms of appointment shall be decided later on," the order stated.
Petitions seeking an impartial probe into the aftermath of the post- polls in Bengal were ruled by a five-member bench headed by acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal.
"In our opinion, the heinous crime such as murder and rape deserve to be investigated by an independent agency which in circumstances can only be Central Bureau of Investigation. It is for the reason that in number of cases, the State had failed to register the FIRs and opined the same to be not the cases of 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," Justice Bindal wrote in the order.
Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy expressed his dissatisfaction and was quoted by the news agency ANI saying that the Bengal government could "appeal to a higher court".
"I'm unhappy with the verdict. If in every law-and-order matter, which is entirely within a state's jurisdiction, the CBI comes... it is the transgression of the state's right. I'm sure the (Bengal) state government will judge the situation and take a decision to appeal to a higher court, if necessary," he said.
The BJP on the other hand has welcomed the decision with Union Minister Anurag Thakur saying that "there is no place for violence in a democracy". West
Earlier, the court had directed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to carry out a preliminary inquiry. Consequently, the court told the state government that it was in "denial mode", and that the NHRC's interim report indicated enough evidence to establish post-poll violence.
The NHRC claimed the situation then was a "manifestation of law of ruler instead of rule of law", and that "local police has been grossly derelict, if not complicit, in this violence"; it said police failed to file FIRs for alleged rape and murder cases.
Banerjee lashed out at the report by the NHRC for "disrespecting the court" and pursuing the "political vendetta" of the BJP by leaking its report.
'NHRC Leaked Info'
"The BJP is now using impartial agencies to settle political scores and malign our state. NHRC should have respected the court. Instead of leaking findings to the media, it should have first submitted the same to the court," she said according to an NDTV report.
The NHRC defended itself and defined the allegation that the report had been leaked and indicated that the report was available with "all concerned parties as per directives of the court".
The West Bengal government had urged the High Court to "disregard the contents of the entire report" as it "does not depict the true and correct picture".
In a detailed affidavit submitted last month, the government insinuated that several members of the NHRC were tied to the BJP.
The BJP has accused the Trinamool of unleashing its thugs to kill party workers, attack women members, vandalize houses, and loot shops and offices belonging to its leaders. The Bengal government hit back saying reports were greatly exaggerated, with fake videos and images circulated to create incorrect narratives.