Retired justice refuses honorarium for overseeing probe in Bengal violence
Entrusted by the Calcutta high court to oversee the functioning of the special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe incidents of post-poll violence in Bengal, retired chief justice of the Calcutta, Bombay and Kerala high courts, Manjula Chellur, has refused to accept any honorarium.
The retired judge was offered ₹10 lakh by the West Bengal government. The sum was fixed by the high court. “We have received a communication from Justice Manjula Chellur graciously stating that she is not inclined to receive the honorarium fixed by the court. We accept the request. The state may not pay any honorarium to her. However, all other directions in the order dated September 3, 2021, may be adhered to,” the bench of Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj said on Thursday.
In a September 3 order, the court asked the chief secretary to provide Justice Chellur with an accommodation befitting a chief justice and all arrangements for travelling. She was the first woman chief justice of the Calcutta high court and the first woman judge of the Karnataka high court. She retired in 2017.
Calcutta high court’s five-judge bench headed by justice Bindal on August 19 ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into all allegations of post-poll murder and rape and a parallel probe by an SIT into the other allegations.
The court said the functioning of the SIT, which would comprise three senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers from Bengal, would be overseen by a retired judge of the Supreme Court. The high court appointed retired chief justice Chellur on September 3 as no retired judge of the apex court was available.
The court has appointed three IPS officers Suman Bala Sahoo, Ranveer Kumar and Kolkata Police commissioner Soumen Mitra for the SIT. On September 2, the state government appointed 10 more IPS officers to assist the SIT in probing the allegations of arson and loot.
On June 18, the Calcutta high court asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to probe all allegations raised from across the state after the March-April polls. The BJP has alleged that more than 30 workers have been killed since May 2 when the election results were declared.
The high court ordered the CBI probe after studying the final report the NHRC submitted on July 13.
The Bengal government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the CBI probe. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the state on September 13 and questioned the neutrality of the NHRC team that visited parts of Bengal and Kolkata.