TMC govt failed to probe post-poll clashes’ complaints: HC
A five-judge bench of the Calcutta high court observed on Thursday that the Mamata Banerjee-administration failed to properly investigate complaints of post-poll violence seen in West Bengal after the results of the assembly elections were announced in early May.
Its response came after the state argued that it is equipped to investigate the violence.
“Today, the state is asking for a role which does not belong to it. The proceedings have become adversarial because the state has failed to properly investigate,” the bench said.
Violence broke out in various parts of the state hours after the Trinamool Congress trounced the Bharatiya Janata Party to secure a third consecutive term on May 2. The BJP has alleged that its workers and supporters were targeted in the post-poll violence. The West Bengal government has denied the charges, and has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of using central agencies and the office of the governor to target it.
A seven-member panel of the National Human Rights Commission, set up on the high court’s order in June to look into clashes after the results, submitted its report on Tuesday. The report recommended a CBI probe and asked for trials to be held outside the state.
“It is nothing but a politically motivated report. We do not give credence to the NHRC report” said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior advocate, appearing for the West Bengal government. He also said whatever is there in the report is not the gospel truth.
Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, counsel of a deceased BJP supporter, however, pressed for a probe by an independent agency.
“Today the state whose inaction has triggered the entire litigation wants to now investigate on its own. An independent agency is called for...,” he said.
The report had said that at least 1,934 police complaints were lodged in the state between May 2 and June 20. Out of the 9,304 people named as accused, less than 3% are currently in jail, according to the panel.
The court on Thursday directed the state government to file its reply on the NHRC report by July 26. The matter will be heard again on July 28.
The NHRC counsel told the court that Raju Mukherjee, who was a part of the seven-member panel, received complaints even on Thursday in which police were allegedly threatening people to withdraw complaints.
The NHRC report also recommended setting up court-monitored SIT with a special public prosecutor, trial in fast-track courts and deployment of central forces to protect victims.
“One of the members of the panel was a member of the BJP’s student’s wing. Check his social media. He wrote in the report whatever the BJP instructed him...,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Jay Prakash Majumdar, vice president of BJP’s state unit said, “The NHRC panel was appointed by a five-judge bench of the high court and not by any political party...The report has quoted the statistics provided by the DGP.”