Bengal post-poll violence: SC seeks Centre’s response on plea challenging CBI inquiry
In its plea, the West Bengal government argued that the CBI was unlikely to conduct a fair investigation into the matter.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre seeking its response on a petition filed by the West Bengal government challenging a Calcutta High Court order directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to look into certain cases related to post-poll violence in the state, Live Law reported.
West Bengal had witnessed several incidents of violence following the Assembly election results on May 2. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress blamed each other for the deaths of multiple party workers. Various news reports put the toll between 11 and 14, but the police did not confirm the numbers.
On August 19, the Calcutta High Court had directed the CBI to investigate allegations of murder, rape and crimes against women in connection with the violence.
After hearing the state government’s arguments on the matter on Tuesday, a bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose asked the Centre to respond at the next hearing on October 7.
“Let us see what they [respondents] have to say,” Saran said. “We will hear it in one go when the other side is also there.”
The West Bengal government has alleged in the petition before the Supreme Court that the CBI was acting at the behest of the Narendra Modi-led central government, and that the agency was unlikely to conduct a fair investigation into the matter.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for West Bengal government, told the court that the Election Commission, and not the state police, was in charge of law and order until the chief minister took oath on May 5, three days after the poll results were announced.
He said that the court would have to take this into consideration while deciding what could be called post-poll violence.
“If chief minister took oath on May 5 and if something happens in June, can it be called post poll violence?” Sibal asked.
He also reiterated the state government’s allegations of bias against a National Human Rights Commission panel appointed to look into the violence. The panel had submitted its report on July 13, recommending that cases of “heinous crimes” be transferred to the CBI
Sibal alleged on Tuesday that three out of seven members of the commission were affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Bar and Bench reported.
He said that one of the members had a Twitter bio saying he was affiliated to the BJP, while another member was the former head of the Intelligence Bureau. Another member was affiliated to a legal services authority, Sibal said.
On August 19, the Calcutta High Court, while ordering the CBI investigation into allegations of murder, rape and crimes against women, had also directed a special investigation team to look into all other cases related to the violence.
The High Court had termed the state government’s allegations of bias against the NHRC panel as “not material”